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

Honour and Shame in the Canadian Muslim Community: Developing Culturally Sensitive Counselling Interventions/Honneur et Honte Dans la Communauté Musulmane Au Canada : ÉLaborer Des Modes D'intervention et De Counseling Tenant Compte Des Cultures

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

Honour and Shame in the Canadian Muslim Community: Developing Culturally Sensitive Counselling Interventions/Honneur et Honte Dans la Communauté Musulmane Au Canada : ÉLaborer Des Modes D'intervention et De Counseling Tenant Compte Des Cultures

Article excerpt

Canada, a multicultural nation, has a rapidly expanding Muslim population. According to the Pew Research Center (2011), Muslims currently account for 2.8% of the Canadian population, and their global population is expected to increase by 35% by the year 2030. As this populace increases, its need for adequate mental health care likewise increases. Understanding the cultural and religious values, salient features, and particular challenges of this community is a basic requirement for culturally competent mental health counselling. Among recurrent themes within this population, many Muslims adhere to religiously and culturally defined values of honour and shame, particularly in relation to female sexual mores. Although these values are integral to their worldview, those living in Canada may experience distress when culturally specific definitions of these values conflict with the norms and expectations of the dominant society. Effective intervention tools can be developed to address this issue, taking into account an Islamic framework of values while drawing from the current theoretical models of cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT; Hodge & Nadir, 2008) and narrative therapy (Abudabbeh, 2010). These tools can offer new possibilities for Canadian Muslims experiencing distress due to honour-related issues.

Family honour and shame within the Muslim community may be linked to a variety of situations, including having family members who have physical or mental health disabilities (Abudabbeh, 2005; Bywaters, Ali, Fazil, Wallace, & Singh, 2003; Sohelian & Inman, 2009), have diverse sexual orientations (Kugle, 2010), have substance abuse addictions (Ali-Northcott, 2012), or exhibit any type of condition or behaviour deemed socially unacceptable. However, the most prominent cause of shame-at least in terms of public awareness-involves Muslim females who violate family or cultural sexual mores (Chesler, 2009, 2010; Hedayat-Diba, 1999; United Nations Population Fund, 2005).

TTiis article is structured into four main sections. After a brief discussion of honour and shame in collectivist cultures, the article explores previous studies concerning honour-related violence and distress in the Muslim community, as well as effective approaches in counselling Muslims. Tfie third section presents a four-component intervention model, and the article ends with a concluding summary and suggested next steps in research and application.

DEFINING HONOUR AND SHAME

Concepts of honour and shame are prevalent in collectivist societies in which personal and family reputations are of paramount importance. Honour and shame imply a public dimension, as maintaining face or losing face (i.e., maintaining or losing reputation and dignity) in front of one's community can be a matter of life or death (United Nations Population Fund, 2005; Weiden, 2010). Similarly, personal behaviour is understood to reflect on the reputation of the individual's entire family and extended clan group (Kobeisy, 2004). Although there are cultural variations in defining shameful behaviour, it typically involves violating family boundaries and collectively held understandings of moral conduct (Abudabbeh, 2005; Hedayat-Diba, 1999). Families experiencing a loss of face in front of their cultural communities may feel trapped, without adaptive means to regain their sense of dignity. Male family members may also experience intense social pressure to cleanse (actively remove from) their families of the perceived source of shame, even by coercive or violent means (United Nations Population Fund, 2005).

It is difficult to provide any specific quantitative or qualitative descriptions of honour and shame within the Canadian Muslim community. Although there have been investigations into the types of female behaviour considered shameful by Muslim families and communities (Baobaid, 2002, 2012; Baobaid & Hamed, 2010; Chesler, 2009, 2010; Papp, 2010; United Nations Population Fund, 2005; Weiden, 2010), there are no empirical studies detailing the prevalence or levels of distress experienced by Canadian Muslims in relation to their perceptions of honour and shame. …

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