ana maria mayo counselling

Counselling and Diversity

Counselling and Diversity. Nov 14: Brushstrokes

It is very easy to underestimate the importance of understanding how our culture and attitudes affect how we see and describe our experiences. There are many, many influences such as our culture, upbringing, parent(s) background, adoptive status, country, class, colour, race, sexuality, (dis)ability and more. How important, then, is it that your counsellor should be aware of this and do their best to take account of all of this in understanding what you are saying?

As I explained on the welcome page, I am an Argentinian woman who was born and grew up in Buenos Aires whose parents were the children of immigrants from Italy and Spain. My life’s experiences have brought me to live in different cultures. This experience has led to my being particularly interested in working with people who have such a background.

Counselling and Diversity. Nov 14: 2 women counselling

From my experience of working with clients from different cultures, I understand that we need to explore all of the different cultures that are present when we are working together in the counselling room. For example, my client and I may belong to different cultures and we are both living in a third culture, probably speaking in a language that is not our first language.

The benefit of understanding that this is a potential problem, is that I will be doing my best to understand the potentially challenging and upsetting issues that my client presents to me in the context within which they are explaining them, rather than possibly (mis)understanding by looking through the lens of my own cultural experience. Without this awareness, there can be misunderstandings and frustration in the struggle to communicate clearly.

The following are some quotes from one my clients where the issues of cultural difference were significant. The quotes were made at different times during the counselling and reflect how she believes she has developed.

“I felt disoriented in many ways. I didn’t know how to organise my life in England. My connection with others was a lot more formal than at home. I had to talk and behave in a manner that was not me. I was also confused in my relationship with my partner, money seemed to condition everything. I was very frightened and this impacted on my relationship.”

After our first few sessions she said:

“I found somebody with whom I could talk about my darkest side. My most important realisation then was that I could find a person that accepted me even with my darkest side."

Later she commented:

“As time went by I noticed everything was flowing and I felt more and more comfortable. Somebody else understood me. In my understanding it is not about the person having therapy skills, it is about the person being a therapist.”

Reflecting on the value she gained from the counselling:

“The essence of the work for me was not that I could produce changes like getting a new job, etc. The change was what happened inside me, to be able to look at those dark places. Then I learnt the way to get inside that darkness. The following step was to learn to accept myself”.

If you would like to contact me to discuss particular issues and/or to make a free initial appointment, please click here to send an email or call me on 07899-922733.

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