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Implications of PhD for counsellor training (reading Lynch, 2002)

Thursday, June 21st, 2007 @ 6:36 pm
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Posted in  Reading, Reflexivity

One of the motivators of conducting this research has been to gain some insight around the ‘fit; of transferability of counsellor training from one country to another, given that many counsellors who train abroad may be returning to their homeland, sometimes to be pioneers in counsellor training at their original culture, especially if counselling in the original culture is a new filed (like in my case, Greece). The question is that there must be a need for considering the fit between host and original cultural context. For example, thinking abot myself: my counselling ‘persona’ and working style is quite ‘english-like’ given i trained in the UK. Also, my humanistic model, giving emphasis and power to the client rather than the counsellor, best fits in my understanding in a culture where there is value and respect to individualism. If I decide to go and practice in Greece, i can anticipate a number of challenges: Greek mannerism, perceptions of professional boundaries and behaviours, attitudes to psychological help seeking etc are different to those am used to in English culture. Also, Greeks are seeking for an ‘expert’ to tell them what to do, to solve their problems…rather that having an approach that values personal development and individual agency. the non-directive person-centred counselling model may seem ‘alien’ to the Greeks…and then the question is: how do you train (what models etc) Greek prospective counsellors in a way that prepares them for the client needs they will encounter?….and a personal question (also for those who have trained abroad and return back): in what ways shall i adapt my more ‘english-formed’ counsellor identity and working style to work with Greek clients, in my mother tongue, with new set of professional rules etc (somekind alien to me, although being Greek…cause I have now become bi-cultural). And this is necessarily problematic or am i actually more flexible and enriched and broad in perspective put wouldnt be able to see it that clearly straight awat cause i will be experiencing the so called ‘re-entry shock’ when i return???

 Drawn from those thoughts, i did some reading and wrote the following today:

PhD Research: Ideas/literature around implications for COUNSELLOR TRAINING

Key articles:
1. Lynch, M.F. (2002) The Dilemma of International Counselor Education: Attending to cultural and professional fits and misfits. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling. 24: 89-100
2. Chen, C.P. (2004) Transforming Career in Cross-cultural Transition: the experience of Non-western culture counsellor trainees. Counselling Psychology Quarterly. 17(2): 137-154
3. Trahar, S. (2002) Researching Learning across cultures. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research. 2(3): 195-200

Counsellors who move between cultures have some sort of educational experience(s): they may have received their training in the host culture, they may be delivering training themselves in a host culture or a multicultural context or they may return to their original culture or move to another one and probably get involved in delivering training there.

For example, some Greek colleagues that are in Greece at the moment, where counselling is a new field and counselling training is just developing, are involved in designing or delivering counselling courses. The questions that arise seem to be:

- Can we deliver a western developed counselling training programme in another culture (let’s say Greece) without taking into account the cultural and professional context of the country? (also linking to the local cultural attitudes to help seeking, counselling etc). For example, what a counsellor training programme that ‘fits’ with the Greek culture would look like? How can those local counsellor trainers (most of which have trained abroad, since not available in original culture) can design and deliver it in a congruent way? (Am reminded of my interviews to Bangalore, India as well)
- The debate is around the transferability of counselling training and practices from one country to another in a way that fits and responds to the given local needs, attitudes and perceptions

The economically driven globalisation of Western cultural practices presents the phenomenon of having professional elites in non-western countries (Greek mentality and culture is sth between East and West) being educated in western oriented institutions or returning home to practise after receiving training in Western countries (i.e western models, different values system etc) – Note at Culture Panel, moderated by David Orlinsky at SPR, Madison, US, June 2007

Bit of LITERATURE (from article by Lynch, 2002):
Efforts at international counsellor education are potentially problematic because of often unexamined differences between host and donor. These differences can include culture itself as well as the related constructs of worldview and information processing styles.

CULTURAL NEXUS in interaction with PROFESSIONAL NEXUS of models, therapeutic schools and professionals’ distinctions must be negotiated when training perspectives/practices are crossing cultures

It is increasingly clear that Western style mental health services are inappropriate…and are frequently destructive to the non-Western host setting (Pedersen, 1988: 83)

The relationship between culture, worldview and counselling are evident. Ibrahim (1991) notes that ‘because worldviews are culturally based variables they influence the relationship between a helper and a client’ (p,14)

BUT: Trevino’s model (1996) of human universality: existential commonalities v. differences (Speight, 1991)

Goal: find a ‘best fit’ between the local cultural nexus and an optimal counselling approach

Distinction of professions within the mental health field (definitions and role boundaries vary from culture to culture)

Attempting to transplant a profession, in toto, from one cultural/historical context to another, without attention to the ways in which the new context may be culturally and historically different, shows a lack of multicultural awareness, at best, and a lack of respect for the host culture, at worst.

Whether or not a ‘generic’ theory of counselling is ultimately attainable of even desirable, however, international counsellor educators will need to be aware of both the cultural (worldview, info processing) and the professional (models, schools, professions) distinctions in order to facilitate finding a ‘best fit’ between therapeutic approach and the local host culture. (Remember: debate around integrating traditional healing practices, Moodley and West etc)

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