Value issues pertaining to cultural and family background
Michael and Amy appear at your office for crisis counseling. Michael, 22, comes from a somewhat controlling Italian family. Amy, 20, comes from a large and powerful Japanese family that settled in California five generations ago. They want to get married in the fall, but they fear the reactions of their families. After dating casually for six months, they were forced to end their relationship because of objections on both sides. But after not seeing each other for two months, they began to meet in secret and are now determined to marry. Amy has threatened to become pregnant if their decision to get married is not accepted by their families. No one in either of their families is aware of their plans, but they know they must act quickly. They have decided to seek counseling
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- What values would present challenges in working with this client?
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Challenges of Intercultural Marriage
In Italy, a family is the most significant aspect of their lives, unlike Japan. Family provides economic and emotional support to the people and forms the Italian social circles’ foundation. Italian marriage that involves spouses from different races is usually faced with various challenges. For instance, interreligious and intercultural investment in Italian marriage is a complex process in adapting the culture. As a counselor, it is crucial to understand and acknowledge the impacts of cultural backgrounds in family life and marriage. Different cultures and customs teach various values and priorities. Therefore, multicultural and interracial couples compromise, have unique needs to bend, and it becomes difficult to accommodate the other person’s way of life. In the case of Michael and Amy, they come from different cultural backgrounds. Being in a relationship, their parents are against their marriage hence the need to seek a counselor. To deal with their case, the counselor may face some of these challenges.
Values that present challenges in working with these clients
The anxiety this can result from feelings, memories, and desire, which can bring tension and cause the client to doing something terrible. Consequently, fear comes from conflicts where ego and id and the superego takes control of the client’s psychic energy. Again this becomes a challenge because it is a warning of impending danger. Similarly, the ego-defense mechanism will help the clients cope with the anxiety, preventing the ego from being overcome (Corey, 2016,61). However, besides being pathological, ego defense may be normal behaviors that have adaptive value provided that they do not become the living style, which makes the client avoid reality.
Regression- In the presence of stress, the challenge is when the client attempts to cope with their anxiety and show inappropriate behaviors. For instance, trying to get pregnant to intimidate people trying to stop you from being marred by a certain man. However, identification can bring self-worth and protect one from a sense of being a failure to be heroes.
Sublimation– Consequently this is an energy, which is diverted into socially accepted channels especially when the client is aggressive whereby the aggression can be channeled to the activities he is doing so that he can find a way to express the aggressive feelings (Corey, 2016,62)
The counselor might not be aware of the cultural context across different cultures. The counselor is challenging to work with both clients and look for ways to consider their goals without devaluing and ignoring their cultural values. The therapist should not choose on behalf of the client or take away their pains but to present their case so both clients will be empowered to make an important decision. As in this case, to overcome the problems of cultural values to both clients, the therapist must understand how his cultural perspectives are likely to affect the interventions, mainly while working with clients from different cultures (Gerald , N/d).
Another significant challenge is attitudes and beliefs. The counselor may be culturally unaware of their assumptions, causing problems to clients. For instance, in Italy, a family is the most significant aspect of their lives. The belief that family provides economic and emotional support to the people and forms the foundation of the Italian social circles. The counselor should be well informed of their beliefs and understand that Italian parents are authoritative throughout their entire lives (Corey, 2016,60) Children leave their parents at a higher age while they remain tied to their families. Italian life is characterized by closeness and loyalty and tends to remain a closer unit from their immediate families to their relatives throughout several generations. It is their custom that engagement happens at an early age, and they wait until the man secures a stable job before marrying. While addressing their case, the counselor should be aware that young engaged couples can stay for many years before getting married.
The counselors are also faced with the challenge of knowledge. Culturally effective practitioners should be knowledgeable of their cultural heritage and racial as well as the impacts. Lack of this knowledge poses a significant challenge in understanding the dynamics of discrimination, racism, and stereotyping. They may not be able to detect their feelings and racist attitude. Other challenges include poor intervention strategies and skills (Gerald, N/d). The counselor may lack essential skills in working with cases of culturally diverse populations.
In conclusion, the counselor should educate their clients on the therapeutic process, including legal rights, appropriate expectations, and setting goals. The three major challenges are anxiety, regression and sublimation issues. For instance, the marriage between Michael, an Italian, and Amy, Japanese, are two different communities with unique cultural values. Addressing their case requires the therapist to have essential skills based on their cultural values.