Figure 3-11. Culture and the Perception of Conflict

A 33‐year‐old single, second‐generation Chinese‐Canadian woman joined a group after proper preparation. She was one of two non‐Caucasians in this long‐term, interpersonally focused, slow‐turnover group. Unfortunately, in her first session, the group forcefully confronted an elderly man, who was emotionally abusive to his spouse and shirked responsibility for it. The new member froze throughout the session and was clearly very anxious. The therapist acknowledged her discomfort and the stressfulness of the situation for her. Nevertheless, the following day this client wanted to discontinue group, feeling very threatened by the directness of the confrontation and its target, the elderly father figure. Her anxiety was accepted as genuine and not seen as resistance by the therapist, who provided several individual sessions parallel to the group to clarify that this was not an attack on all fathers (including her own) in the group, and that it was done to help the elderly group member. This Chinese‐Canadian client also was reassured that the other group members would be informed about the sociocultural reasons for her being upset, and that they would be empathic to her feelings on this matter. This intervention facilitated her integration in the group and her perception of the therapist as culturally credible and competent.
Source: Adapted from Salvendy 1999, p. 451.

From: 3 Criteria for the Placement of Clients in Groups

Cover of Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy
Substance Abuse Treatment: Group Therapy.
Treatment Improvement Protocol (TIP) Series, No. 41.
Center for Substance Abuse Treatment.

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