Describe in depth the function of culture and diversity in the work of a clinical psychologist.

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Culture and diversity impact a clinical psychologist's insights into their clients' concerns, influence the strategies they might use to counsel a client, and perhaps shape the eventual diagnoses a psychologist might determine.

In order to effectively treat and counsel clients, clinical psychologists must first be aware of their own perceptions...

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Culture and diversity impact a clinical psychologist's insights into their clients' concerns, influence the strategies they might use to counsel a client, and perhaps shape the eventual diagnoses a psychologist might determine.

In order to effectively treat and counsel clients, clinical psychologists must first be aware of their own perceptions regarding various cultures. It would be a great disservice for a psychologist to omit a thorough self-reflection and then allow their biases to slant the way they perceive a client's challenges. Once a counselor determines their own personal biases, they need to examine how those might impact any particular client and ensure that those needing help find the best treatment possible—wherever that exists.

Understanding a client's culture is crucial in determining how to best approach a client's concerns. Scientists have begun to study cultural neuroscience, examining how growing up in different cultures impacts the brain's ability to adapt to engagement in scripted behaviors. Based on studies in cultural neuroscience, scientists have determined that brain connections are "culturally patterned," which influences how people view themselves and others. A client who grew up in a Western culture may place great emphasis on individual identity and success, while those who grew up in Eastern cultures may believe that being interdependent and connected brings a sense of personal peace. These types of cultural patterns need to be given consideration as a clinical psychologist processes a client's struggles and therapies.

Culture also impacts the strategies a clinical psychologist might employ. Culture influences how clients speak to their counselors, how much information they willingly divulge, and how they perceive psychological techniques that might be suggested. Knowing, for example, that a client's South Asian culture highly values privacy may lead a counselor to avoid suggesting whole-family counseling sessions. There is some research that indicates that counselors often feel less effective when counseling across cultures and that culturally mismatched interactions may lead to a client's decreased trust in their psychologist.

Cultural differences may also impact the eventual diagnoses of clients. There is evidence that white clients are significantly more likely to receive a diagnosis of depression than Black clients. PTSD is particularly more common for certain groups, such as inner-city residents and immigrants from tumultuous countries. Suicide rates are highest in the United States among men in Indigenous populations. Recognizing the way culture shapes perceptions and how certain populations are truly more at risk for various mental health problems provides greater insight into treatment.

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