Culture Matching

Culture-matching psychotherapy models remove the pressure on clients to fit into dominant psychotherapy paradigms and worldviews. The culture-matching model of psychotherapy represents the broadest multicultural framework in that it is easily adaptable to traditional theories. It holds the basic assumption that effective psychotherapy requires therapists to be sensitive to the client's cultural worldview and experiences (Ibrahim, 1985). D. W. Sue and Sue (1999) describe two independent psychological orientations—locus of control and locus of responsibility—that create four possible worldviews or orientations to life. Although most traditional psychotherapy models subscribe to an internal locus of control and internal locus of responsibility orientation, they argue that culturally different clients may possess other worldviews (e.g., external locus of control and external locus of responsibility). Therapists must use this cultural awareness and sensitivity to match their worldviews with the clients in order for change to occur in psychotherapy. The client should not be forced to match the therapists' worldview, although it is acknowledged that a mutual shift in worldviews will occur.

Treviño (1996) emphasizes the need for therapists to match clients in their general and specific worldviews. According to her, psychological problems often reside in the specific worldviews of clients. As such, therapists must work toward resolving the cognitive dissonance at this level and assisting clients to move toward more congruent worldviews. Toward this end, culture matching subsumes both etic and emic approaches to psychotherapy and acknowledges the value of culture-specific knowledge and universal healing processes (Ibrahim, 1984). Once therapists and clients are able to match worldviews and overcome cultural barriers, then they are able to work collaboratively toward the resolution of common life problems (e.g., career choice, depression, anxiety, marital conflicts).

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