In Multicultural Therapy Over Time, Melba J. T. Vasquez demonstrates this important and influential model, one that has recently infused a number of approaches to psychotherapy. Multicultural therapy takes into consideration racial and ethnic diversity as well as diversity in spirituality, sexual orientation, disabilities, and class, and the potential cultural bias of practitioners. Although there is no single multicultural therapy, multicultural theory has influenced many approaches to be more sensitive to the history of the oppressed and marginalized, acculturation issues, and the politics of power.
Dr. Vasquez demonstrates her own approach, which contains three elements:
- cultural sensitivity (an awareness and appreciation of human cultural diversity)
- cultural knowledge (including factual information about cultural variation)
- cultural empathy (the ability to connect emotionally with the patient's cultural perspective)
In this approach, one must make decisions about when and how a person's problems relate to or are mediated by cultural factors, as not every problem is necessarily related to or best treated by emphasizing culture.
In this DVD, Dr. Vasquez works with a 27-year old woman whose husband has been abusive physically and emotionally. The client is Native American, but was adopted by a White European American family when she was an infant; however, she is highly interested in her birth family and Native heritage. The client wishes to end her marriage, but she feels trapped in her current situation because she has only a high school diploma and few skills. Dr. Vasquez works with the client over the course of six sessions to help increase her sense of empowerment so that she is able to take control of her life.