Family Therapy: Working with Families From Different Ethnic and Cultural Backgrounds

Carol Gan, marriage and family therapist talks about common issues after TBI.

Download the transcript of this video.

Almost 50% of our population in Toronto are from different ethnic cultural communities. So as service providers and as clinicians, we really have to look at creative ways of working with families who may have very different and divergent beliefs around health and illness, around what caused the brain injury, and around ways of seeking help around that. So for example, our biological model around brain injury is that we know it's caused by damage to the brain, there's been a blow that has caused some bruising to different parts of the brain which may account for behavioral, emotional, or changes in thinking. Families from other cultures may not subscribe to that biological scientific model. Some families may experience it as, this is predestined. It's fate. It's meant to be. And in families who do see things in that fatalistic way, it is hard to engage them in rehab because when things happen due to fate, it's beyond the control of man. Similarly, when families have supernatural beliefs or beliefs that are more spiritually oriented, that the cause of the injury is due to supernatural forces or it's God's will, that how can we as human beings have more power over divine intervention? So families who have those kinds of beliefs may gravitate more towards prayer, towards spiritual healers, towards divine intervention, and it doesn't mean they won't necessarily buy into rehab. I think what that means is we have to look at ways of bridging their cultural belief systems and incorporating different ways that families might want to access help. So they may want to access rehab, but at the same time, they may also want to engage in the use of prayer and their natural healers, and that's something we should be respecting and incorporating as part of the rehab plan.
Posted on BrainLine April 29, 2009. Reviewed January 16, 2018.

About the author: Caron Gan, RN

Caron Gan is an Advanced Practice Nurse, Registered Psychotherapist, and Registered Marriage and Family Therapist with the Ontario and American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT). She has worked with clients with brain injury, providing psychotherapeutic intervention to youth, adults, couples, and families.

Produced by Victoria Tilney McDonough and Brian King.