Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 255–263 | Cite as

Understanding the family in multiple cultural contexts: Avoiding therapeutic traps

  • Joellyn L. Ross
  • Etienne J. Phipps
Article

Abstract

Developing a balanced picture of a family's functioning is difficult when the family is culturally different from the therapist. Open-minded family therapists often translate culturally different traits and behaviors as culturally appropriate and exclude them from clinical judgment, which can limit therapeutic range and effectiveness. The following case study about an Indian family with a mentally retarded child is especially illustrative of the dilemmas facing the therapist working with families of different backgrounds. Therapeutic traps were avoided by having the family assess its own differences, while the therapist held steadfast to social interconnectedness as essential to healthy family functioning.

Keywords

Health Psychology Social Issue Cultural Context Family Functioning Clinical Judgment 

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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joellyn L. Ross
    • 1
  • Etienne J. Phipps
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family PracticeUniversity of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic MedicineCamden
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-School of Osteopathic MedicineCamden

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