Understanding is an essential clinical practice skill, one which draws upon cognitive and affective, conscious and unconscious abilities. This paper explores the challenges posed by cross-cultural understanding. Using concepts from anthropology and data from anthropological field work and clinical practice, it examines cultural differences in the experience and communication of affect. Clinical examples from Northern Thailand are used to illustrate the ways these subtle and complex differences in clients’ affective worlds challenge our capacity to understand those who are culturally different. Implications for cross-cultural social work practice are addressed.
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Catherine Nye received her MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her PhD in psychology from The Committee on Human Development at the University of Chicago. She is currently Associate Professor at Smith College School for Social Work.
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Nye, C. Understanding And Misunderstanding In Cross-Cultural Practice: Further Conversations With Suwanrang. Clin Soc Work J 34, 303–317 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10615-005-0016-2
- cross-cultural practice