From my exposure to many diverse cultural/ethnic groups, I have learned that treatment needs not only to be physiologically and psychologically appropriate, but it needs to be culturally valid to ensure effective change.
Thus, treatment needs to be tailored and adaptable. Different groups present symptoms differently and a therapist needs to be able to understand groups and how symptoms are presented, and they need to understand how they need to be treated in a culturally sensitive context. My exposure and experience has prepared me for this task.
I consider myself privileged to have worked with a number of clients and patients with diverse cultural/ethnic background (e.g., White, African-American, Hispanic, Filipino, Asian, Native-American, Indian), age (teenage-geriatric), living situation (e.g., prison, homeless, assisted living), disability, religion, sexual preference, and marital, occupational, educational, military, and parental status. I have worked with patients presenting with diverse problems, including those of sleep, mood, anxiety, trauma, substance use, psychosis, obesity, pain, heart failure, pulmonary disease, and dementia.
In addition to these experiences in a clinical setting, I have had many personal and social relationships with people of very diverse backgrounds. Philadelphia is a region with an extremely diverse population, with urban and rural residents, many veterans, many recent immigrants, many non-native English speakers, and many people from Black/African-American, Hispanic and Asian backgrounds. These personal relationships have helped me to have a better perspective when these groups are presented in a clinical environment.
When I am presented with a client, I take special care to understand their background and personal context in assessment, case conceptualization, and treatment, utilizing acculturation scales and other assessments of cultural beliefs and practices.
In taking the initiative to learn about a client/patient's way of life, I can conceptualize a case more thoroughly and accurately. I avoid making assumptions about a person's lifestyle and background.
If I find myself unfamiliar with the best way to proceed, given the background of a person, I find it extremely helpful to seek guidance from an experienced mentor or colleague.