For instance, the western culture believes in the primacy of the individual whereas eastern culture is governed by thinking collectively on centrally important values. While the eastern culture emphasizes submission to authority, the western culture demands personal freedom. I realized this while I was counseling a person from a Jewish background. It immediately made me conscious of what was required of me as a counselor. It was a learning experience and I realized the areas where I need to hone up my skills as a multicultural counselor.
I recently interviewed a Jew client who had approached me under the instructions of a rabbi. There is a tendency amongst the Jews to first approach a rabbi in case of any mental or emotional problems. Rabbis seldom refer them to psychotherapists but when they do suggest meeting a counselor, the Jews seldom disobey. So this is how this client reached me. He was unwilling to give much of personal details and I had to refer back to the rabbi so that I could help the client. He had received a severe financial setback due to separation in the family and had lost his mental balance. The Orthodox Jews do not want their personal problems to be discussed outside their community, which is another reason that they are not keen to go to the counselor from the secular world (Schnall, 2006). The Jews were apprehensive about approaching a counselor unless they share similar religious beliefs and cultural values.
Having undergone training in multicultural counseling I was aware that clients come with all sorts of problems that include relational, sexual, existential, moral, material and spiritual problems. The existential problems of people have remained unchanged even after thousands of years. Sue and Sue (1990) contend that it is the personal and professional responsibility of the counselor to be aware of the cultural differences, values, biases, and behavior (cited by Freedman). Based on these, I develop appropriate strategies to provide support to clients from different cultural backgrounds.