Daily Archives: August 1, 2021

Cultural and Diversity Issues in Counselling


Suggested by Dr. Turnoi Turjakuunnen


There are a number of professional fields involving counseling - the medical doctor, a psychologist or even a psychiatrist. It is an essential part of their work to help their clients (patients) deal with their way of life with the major objective of physical and mental health in mind. They also help those suffering by counseling (among other things). It means caring for other people in a professional way. This is the essemtial “pastoral” element in their work - caring for the sake of well-being of others. There are two fields that come to my mind where this pastoral element of caring for others is involved - that of a pastor of a congregation involved in all aspects (Christian Counseling) that sometimes may also mean active crisis intervention in certain situations. The other field non-medical field is the work of a teacher - especially a teacher dealing with older and more “mature” students about to enter the hall of their own lives in preparing for it (ca.17 - 23/25 years aged students). While at college or university, they are taking basic decisions on which field to work in after graduation and what to do else in their lives ahead of them.

In the Western tradition, a teacher at that developmental stage of his/her students is mainly confined to his role of transmitting/transferring knowledge in a specialised area of study. This is a very limited and less “holistic” role as students in that period of their lives have to deal with a number of important issues in addition to mere knowledge acquisition - the first love; gradual emancipation from parental home and the parents, their views and values as well as many other existential issues of primary importance to them. In the Asian, and especially in the Confucian tradition, a teacher’s role is more than that of mere knowledge transfer and is also aimed at helping the student to grow as a person. In that sense, it is more “holistic”.

The process of self-growth and gradual maturing of a student as a person is a process effecting mind (knowledge, skills, competencies), heart (emotions/feelings) and hands (implementation of what has been learned, acting and behaving in challenges of daily life). A Western teacher not only in China but also in Korea, for example, may be expected to fill this more holistic role he is not used to in his own Western tradition. And if so, the Western teacher can only do a good job then if he/she knows to act within the cultural framework of his/her student/s - a framework that may be an alien one to him/her. The Foreword in this e-book clearly states: “Cultural identity requires new attitudes toward cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes” (p. vi, ibd). If I change this sentence slightly and say, “Cultural diversity requires new attitudes toward cognitive, affective, and behavioral processes (different from the teacher’s own culture)”, then the reason why foreign teachers in China and elsewhere should read the book becomes very clear: You as a teacher need toknow and undersand the basic cultural patterns and settings of your student if you really want to give some advice that is helpful in his part of the world!

Hence, the book is an introductory text to CROSS-CULTURAL COUNSELING. I hope it would help those among you who view their role as a teacher in a more holistic sense. You will win the hearts of your students if you meet them half the way in this important phase of first self-orientation in their lives.