Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Counselling Expectations of a Sample of East Asian and Caucasian Canadian Undergraduates in Canada/Les Attentes Face Au Counseling Chez Les éTudiants De Premier Cycle Au Canada : Comparaison Des Canadiens Caucasiens et Originaires De l'Asie De l'Est

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Counselling Expectations of a Sample of East Asian and Caucasian Canadian Undergraduates in Canada/Les Attentes Face Au Counseling Chez Les éTudiants De Premier Cycle Au Canada : Comparaison Des Canadiens Caucasiens et Originaires De l'Asie De l'Est

Article excerpt

The purpose of this study is to examine the differences in expectations of counselling between a sample of first-generation East Asians living in Canada and a sample of Caucasian Canadians living in Canada. The first-generation East Asians in this study were originally from China, Korea, Japan, or Vietnam. The literature review that follows refers to previous studies that used the term "Asians," which generally refers to East Asians from these four countries, but may refer to Asians from regions outside of China, Korea, Japan, or Vietnam.

Despite the growing population of Asians in Canada, there is a lack of research examining this population regarding issues related to counselling. For this reason, most of the research reviewed here pertains to Asian Americans, or Asians residing in the United States.

Ethnic matching and cultural sensitivity have been suggested as an effective way to provide culturally sensitive counselling. However, the results of empirical studies on ethnic matching have showed mixed results (Maramba & Nagayama Hall, 2002; Zane, Nagamaya Hall, Sue, Young, & Nunez, 2004). Furthermore, from a practical point of view, ethnic matching between counsellors and clients may not be feasible in most counselling service agencies. Therefore, it is crucial that all counsellors be aware of the unique needs of Asian clients to provide better service to this clientele.

While the level of effort has increased in the mental health field to provide culturally sensitive practice to culturally diverse populations (e.g., Arthur & Collins, 2005; Hays, 2001; Sue & Sue, 2003), it has been well documented that Asians underutilize mental health services and have higher dropout rates from psychotherapy and counselling than European Americans (see Chen, Sullivan, Lu, & Shibukawa, 2003). Recent research by Li and Brown (2000) suggests that Asian Canadians consistently underutilize mainstream mental health services, such as counselling. This trend is disconcerting, given that research has suggested that Asians report having higher levels of social and emotional distress than the general public (Cheng & Leong, 1993). For most Asians, traditional forms of counselling based on Western values can be viewed as foreign concepts (Hong, Lee, & Lorenzo, 1995). Some of the reasons cited for Asians' underutilization of mental health services include lack of knowledge of available mental health services and lack of trust in counsellors (Kim, 1987, 1996).

Furthermore, cultural norms around family privacy (i.e., keeping personal issues in the family to save the face of the family) may deter Asians from seeking mental health services (Hong & Ham, 2001). Partly due to these norms, Asians are more likely to seek help from family members or respected members of the community rather than from a mental health professional (Hong et al., 1995; Yeh & Inose, 2002) or solve problems on their own (Loo, Tong, & True, 1989). In a similar vein, self-concealment (i.e., the tendency to conceal distressing or negative personal information) has been reported as another factor that affects Asians' help-seeking attitude. Public admission of personal problems is suppressed because it can implicate ones family as the cause of one's problems. Liao, Rounds, and Klein (2005) have shown that for Asian college students, having a high level of self-concealment is the single largest contributing factor to negative attitudes about receiving counselling.

Counselling expectations have been defined as "probability statements regarding the likelihood that an event will occur in counselling (e.g., the counsellor will understand my problem) or a condition will exist (e.g., the counsellor will seem trustworthy)" (Tinsley, Bowman, & Ray, 1988, p. 100). As a function of gender, ethnicity, and culture, expectations many differ between groups (Yuen & Tinsley, 1981). This variance may be seen regarding expectations of client and therapist roles, as well as expectations about the outcomes of counselling (Glass, Arnkoff, & Shapiro, 2001). …

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