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INTRODUCTION AND OVERVIEW

DILEMMAS AND CHOICES

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ognizes that, albeit grudgingly. Culture enters the counseling process through the counselee's cognitions: their expectations, beliefs, and convictions based on their accumulated lifetime of experiences in what is proper, effective, and meaningful. Counseling techniques, then, must be plausible in order to be effective (see Goldstein 1962; Higginbotham 1977, 1984). In different milieus techniques may not be valued or accepted to the same extent. These considerations suggest two things. First, as techniques of counseling are exported across cultural lines, they should be assessed for their fitness. Higginbotham (1984) has developed a culture accommodation scale to be applied to the delivery of mental health services. This instrument needs to be adapted to assess the cultural acceptability of various counselors' interventions. Second, an imperative of cross-cultural counseling is flexibility, the readiness to modify, adapt, and experiment during the counseling process. Does nothing remain constant as counseling is modified through new adaptations? It would be hasty to answer this question in the affirmative. We just do not know enough to say what survives in the cultural transformation of the tangible and the intangible in counseling. It seems plausible, however, that any universals are more likely to be attitudinal rather than technical. We do not yet have a catalog of universal, culture-free elements of counseling. In the absence of such a list, a precis addressed to the cross-cultural counselor might be as follows: Be prepared to adapt your techniques (e.g., general activity level, mode of verbal intervention, content of remarks, tone of voice) to the cultural background of the client; communicate acceptance of and respect for the client in terms that make sense within his or her cultural frame of reference; and be open to the possibility of more direct intervention in the life of the client than the traditional ethos of the counseling profession would dictate or permit. Parallel to well-known formulations in the literature of psychotherapy research (Strupp 1970, 1973), the non-specific attitudinal and relationship factors appear to be the most robust ingredient of the counseling experience regardless of site or context.

At various points in this book the silence on mis subject has been broken. The conclusion is justified that, whatever the theoretical context of crosscultural counseling, it is more experiential, "freewheeling," and bilateral than counseling in culturally uniform settings. Perhaps the cross-cultural counseling situation provokes a degree of culture shock, comparable to the experience of being plunged into an alien world in which accustomed behaviors and actions no longer work. Although the counselor is to some extent protected by the professional role and setting, feelings of inadequacy may be particularly painful in that they assail the counselor's competence as a professional. LiRipac (1980) documented some loss of accuracy in assessing clients outside of the therapist's cultural group, which may be related to the tendency to attribute more serious disturbances to clients outside of one's culture. "The clinician's prized tools, his empathy and sensitivity, may suffer impairment when carried, across cultural lines" (Li-Ripac 1980, 339). But the resulting feelings of helplessness and inadequacy are not the only personal reactions experienced. The subjective reports that we do have, including those in this volume, indicate that cross-cultural counseling requires more effort and energy and that it may well produce more fatigue. Again, the parallel is obvious to crosscultural adaptation; the counseling microcosm emerges as a replica of a crosscultural encounter. Research and the Clinical Experience Research-based and clinical information about cross-cultural counseling has grown over the last two decades. (The yield of this accumulating evidence is summarized elsewhere in this volume.) Nonetheless, in a specific situation, the counselor is -all too often left to his or her own devices. In general, the following are at the disposal of the cross-cultural counselor: (1) research-based findings on the cross-cultural counseling process; (2) published accounts of personal experiences by other cross-cultural counselors; (3) personally transmitted accounts; (4) the counselor's own experience with culturally different clients; and finally, (5) the counselor's professional, cultural, and personal sensitivity. Each experience with a culturally different client becomes an adventure that takes both members of the dyad beyond what is currently known. The crosscultural counselor must be prepared to act differently in each new situation and to learn from each new experience. Optimally, each new cross-cultural counseling session should become an experiment with an N of 1 meticulously observed, recorded and analyzed for its consequences. Practice informed by research and research sparked by practice will continue to develop the art of cross-cultural counseling.

The Bilaterality of the Client-Counselor Relationship


If relationships are more enduring in the face of cultural transformation than are techniques, what demands does cross-cultural counseling place upon the counselor? There is general agreement that counseling across cultures is personally demanding and involving. Yet the counselor's reactions to these cross-cultural encounters have remained a neglected topic in the professional literature, which is understandably, if lop-sidedly, focused on the counselee.