The therapist's attempts to achieve a position of influence in the family and effect change should take into account the family's own culturally prescribed ways of influencing people and inducing them to change. A good example of this is included in the following citation from Omer of SW.
I treated a battering husband of Caucasian origin with a talisman. These people use all kinds of talismans against the Evil Eye and other harmful powers. I wrote some charms on a piece of paper, for example,
"Let this arm be dead If violent thoughts come into my head."
I asked him to memorize the verses. Then I folded the paper, and placed it in a tiny metal container attached to a bracelet, which he had to wear on his wrist. And it worked!
Therapists should look for the family's strengths and use them as levers for change. They should mobilize the family's natural support systems. This is well illustrated in the following case, recounted by Reena of SW.
All too often, we are quick to remove a child from his family, rather than fortify those elements of the family or its environment that contribute to his healthy development. This seven-year-old kid, his father was in jail. The boy will finish university before he sees him out and free. His mother walks the streets and does not care whether he is alive or dead. Put in residential care three times and ran away, at most, by the second day. Tikva, my colleague who was in charge of the case, failed to pay attention to the fact that his aunt, his father's sister, and his twenty-five-year- old cousin were absolutely determined to keep this child out of trouble. They cared for him jointly, kept him off any bad influences and saw to it that he went to school regularly and did his homework. I managed to persuade Tikva to work with these two figures; to encourage them, give them feedback and guidance. They fully cooperated and were grateful. I believe this boy has a good chance, although you can never be really sure in such circumstances.
This chapter is devoted to the therapeutic alliance in culturally competent family therapy. Some obstacles to reaching optimal alliance are discussed: