Realms of culture: Therapists' perspectives on self and others

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Human Services


Sari K. Biklen


Therapists, qualitative study

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology | Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy


This dissertation is the result of a qualitative study. It reflects how doctoral therapists in training at a Northeastern private university undergo their process of cultural self-awareness. Cultural self-awareness is one of the multicultural counseling competencies therapists' ethical standards mandate. It is clear all therapists benefit from cultural self awareness. However, it is difficult to teach, existing studies about therapists' cultural self-awareness are quantitative studies. These studies use self-reporting measures and as such do not explore the process of cultural self-awareness.

The purpose of this study was to examine the process in which therapists in training engage as they consider their culture. Eighteen graduate students in the field of psychotherapy collaborated as they participated with their in-depth interviews during the 1995-1996 academic year.

Findings are presented in three themes: Views on Self and Culture, Our Work: Our Selves, and From Marginalization To Strength. Participants referred to themselves with diverse cultural attributes, as they considered their respective cultures to include issues of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and learning and physical disabilities. The findings of this study seem to illuminate the process of cultural self-awareness, thus providing the reader with detailed options that clarify participants' understanding of their cultural self. Further, given the context in which this understanding or learning occurs, if done effectively, it might change future socialization patterns.


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