Answer. In my own culture, people distinguish between a person's behavior and his or her inner world of thoughts and feelings. We consider thoughts and emotions, different, distinct entities. We believe that when emotions are pent up inside a person this causes him or her suffering. We believe that a person's emotions affect his or her physical condition. We view ourselves as distinct, interacting, individual entities. We think it advisable to open up and share emotions.
Question: Considering this family's culture, will the application of this technique be as acceptable and effective as in my own culture?
Answer. I don't know. (Admit ignorance; avoid an ethnocentric attitude; adopt the truly humble position of a learner.)
At this point, the therapist should have refrained from applying these techniques until he learned more about the family's culture, achieved an insider status and created a common cultural ground with it. Afterward, he should have replaced or modified the techniques to suit the family's own modes of communication, norms, values and customs. The techniques to be used should have built on the family's strengths and enlisted its own support system. The therapist could begin by showing interest in culture-free human concerns, being empathetic and sharing his own self and life with the family. He could have told them, for instance, about an uncle who developed similar symptoms after he was fired from his job. The uncle showed self-control and tenacity. He continued leading the family and giving good counsel. The whole family showed solidarity and supported each other through the difficult times. The uncle decided to establish his own business. With his skill, diligence and the support of the family, he soon became very successful and prosperous.
This chapter is devoted to the actual practice of culturally competent family therapy, that is, the planning and execution of each particular therapeutic move. The term strategy refers to the overall therapeutic plan. A good strategy is an effective and economical approach to the problems posed by the case in hand. The strategy identifies the information-processing bugs underlying the presenting complaints, specifies mechanisms and means for removing or weakening these bugs and sets an order of priorities among the therapeutic moves.
The term tactic refers to the plan for a particular culturally competent family therapeutic intervention. A tactic is a particular stage in the overall therapeutic strategy. It may be viewed as a ministrategy. In each tactic specific therapeutic techniques are employed. Each technique is designed to effect a mutation: a small change.
The choice of specific techniques is directed by the following questions: What is the entity to be changed? What is the desired mutation in this entity?