Psychologists' Incorporation of Cultural Data in Psychotherapy: An Exploratory Study
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Culture has been shown to have a significant impact on health care disparities and, more specifically, in the treatment of mental health. As a result, research has highlighted the importance of cultural competence in all stages of psychotherapy. The need for cultural competence has garnered much attention allowing its research to proliferate and inform guidelines for mental health treatment. However, despite the known importance of cultural competence there is a dearth of knowledge informing how a mental health professional should incorporate cultural data into their psychotherapeutic practice. This creates large problems for the field as it leaves many professionals without a sound model for the application of cultural competence. This study was developed in an effort to bridge existing gaps in cultural competence research. Due to the lack of knowledge about the process by which cultural data is incorporated into psychotherapy this study utilized a qualitative phenomenological approach to better understand the phenomena. Eight licensed and practicing psychologists were recruited for interviews that occurred in person or through Skype video conferencing. Participants were asked 15 questions that were developed as part of a semi-structured interview protocol. Interviews were recorded using a digital audio recording device. Data analysis involved transcribing all participants’ interviews, coding the validated transcripts for independent units, and organizing these units into categories, subcategories, and subsets providing a description of the participants’ lived experiences. Results indicated the emergence of three major categories: the nature of cultural competence, therapist responsibility to bring culture to the forefront, and application of culture. Within the first category two subcategories emerged: willingness to learn, and knowing what you do not know. The second subcategory contained two parts, A and B. Subcategory two-A, knowing what you do not know, showed a development of four subsets that provided further description of the nature of cultural competence: asking the client, no assumptions, cultural data gathered at intake and throughout, and in-depth knowledge from interaction/experiences. Subcategory two-B, not knowing what you do not know, described the limits on acquisition of cultural competence and did not produce any subsets. The second major category did not produce any subcategories. The third and final major category was shown to have three subcategories: assessment, intervention, and outcome evaluation.
Surya, Shruti (2018). Psychologists' Incorporation of Cultural Data in Psychotherapy: An Exploratory Study. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from