Transference and Empathy in Asian American Psychotherapy: Cultural Values and Treatment Needs

Transference and Empathy in Asian American Psychotherapy: Cultural Values and Treatment Needs

Transference and Empathy in Asian American Psychotherapy: Cultural Values and Treatment Needs

Transference and Empathy in Asian American Psychotherapy: Cultural Values and Treatment Needs

Synopsis

The family-centered nature of Asian American life, the stresses on the minority position, and the cultural stigma associated with mental illness combine to constitute significant obstacles to the provision of appropriate mental health care for Asian-Americans. The authors, all practicing psychotherapists, focus on two critical aspects of the therapeutic relationship--transference and empathy--emphasizing the need to apply these fundamental concepts within the context of Asian cultural values and treatment needs. The work includes in-depth case studies which will be valuable in training psychotherapists and counseling practitioners to be sensitive to the mental health needs of people of non-European background whose numbers are increasing rapidly in the United States.

Excerpt

During the last decade there has been increased recognition of the need for clinical training programs and curricula directed at preparing therapists to work more effectively with ethnic minority clients in general and, more specifically, with Asian American clients (Shon, 1979; Wong, 1986). Bernal and Padilla (1982) note the dearth of curricula in training programs nationwide that address the needs of low-income and ethnic minority populations. Wong (1986) describes the state of the art in mental health service delivery to Asian American communities and calls for an increase in culturally sensitive training and curricula.

In August 1987, the Department of Mental Health and Social Service of the South Cove Community Health Center, Boston, and the Psychology Department of the University of Massachusetts- Boston, Harbor Campus, cosponsored a two-day interactive forum on transference and empathy in psychotherapy with Asian Americans. The issues of transference and empathy were chosen as the foci of the forum because they address two critical aspects of the therapeutic relationship that the conference organizers believed need to be reexamined in the context of Asian American cultural values and treatment needs. The specific goals of the forum were:

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