American Muslims and Their
Perception of Psychotherapy
A stigma (i.e., negative perception) attached to seeing a counselor, a therapist, or other mental health professional is commonplace among members of various ethnic, professional, age, religious, and cultural groups (Bekkum, 1994; Deane & Chamberlain, 1994; Docherty, 1997; Langman, 1995; Misumi, 1993; Pugh et al., 1994; Szivos & Griffith, 1990; Schore, 1990). Going to counseling can be seen as a sign of failure (Schore, 1990). Among the most prevailing potential sources of counseling fears are fear of embarrassment, fear of change, fear of stereotypes linked to treatment, fears associated with past experiences with the mental health service system, and fears of negative judgment (Kushner & Sher, 1991, cited in Deane & Chamberlain, 1994).
Furthermore, the family, peers, work environments, and the mental health service institutions have been found to be very influential in the development of negative attitudes toward mental health services (Deane & Chamberlain, 1994; Docherty, 1997; Folkenberg, 1986; Juarez, 1985; Lefley, 1989; Root, 1985; Sundberg & Sue, 1989; Tanaka-Matsumi & Higginbotham, 1989).
This kind of stigma is regarded as one of the variables that causes individuals not to report their problems to primary care physicians for the fear of being referred to counseling, therapy, or other mental health professions. When counseling or therapy is imposed on them, clients demonstrate resistance more often than not by refusing to cooperate with therapists, thus limiting or inhibiting the professionals' ability to reach proper diagnosis, which is the first step toward effective treatment. According to Kushner and Sher (1991) and cited by Deane and Chamberlain