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Does Culture Matter? Investigating the Effect of Adherence to Asian Cultural Values on Perceived Difference between Eastern-style versus Western-style Asian Counselor

Cheng, Min

Kim, Atkinson, and Umemoto (2001) proposed that the therapy process is enhanced when the client’s cultural values are consistent with values embedded in counseling. Thus far, empirical studies have yielded inconsistent results in terms of the effect of client adherence to Asian cultural values on perceived counselor effectiveness. The present study used an audiovisual analogue design to evaluate whether participants’ adherence to Asian cultural values predicts their perceived counselor effectiveness of an Asian American counselor, based on counseling styles (Asian vs. Western style). Five sets of contrasting features were identified from the literature that differentiated Asian-style vs. Western-style counseling, including: (1) counselor roles (facilitator vs. expert); (2) individualistic vs. collectivistic approaches (i.e. focus on individual vs. focus on context/family dynamics); (3) counselor preferred mode of expression (verbal vs. non-verbal; or low context vs. high context communication); (4) avoidance of direct guidance/suggestion vs. direct guidance/suggestion; (5) avoidance of counselor self-disclosure vs. counselor self-disclosure of strategies used in the past. We hypothesized that: 1(a) stronger adherence to Asian cultural values will predict higher rating of Asian-style counseling; 1(b) weaker adherence to Asian cultural values will predict higher rating of Western-style counseling; and (2) stronger adherence to Asian cultural values will predict larger difference between ratings for Asian-style counseling and Western-style counseling. Results from the present study failed to support the first hypothesis, which states that stronger adherence to Asian cultural values will predict higher rating of Asian-style counseling. In fact, participants rated the Asian American counselor as equally effective when she employed Asian-style counseling and Western-style counseling. The lack of a significant effect of participants’ adherence to Asian cultural values on perceived counselor effectiveness based on counseling styles in our study was not unexpected given inconsistent results from past research based on one-session volunteer client study. Our study based on video vignette of a mock session of an Asian American dyad was not able to provide empirical support to Kim, Atkinson, and Umemoto (2001)’s proposition.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Gushue, George V.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 5, 2016
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