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Improving Cultural Competence Working with Asian People
Instructor: Dr. Dawn-Elise Snipes, PhD

– Learn about Asian cultures, traditions and values as they relate to mental health
– Learn about communication styles to help the counselor more effectively communicate with culturally different clients
– Explore health disparities
– Explore appropriate approaches to counseling
General Information
– Asian Americans have a 17.30 percent overall lifetime rate of any psychiatric disorder and a 9.19 percent 12-month rate, yet Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek mental health services than Whites
– Cultural factors, such as language, age, gender, and others, can influence the mental health of Asians, particularly immigrants
– Asians place great value on the family as a unit. Each individual has a clearly defined role and position in the family hierarchy and is expected to function within that role, submitting to the larger needs of the family.
– Social stigma, shame, and saving face often prevent Asians from seeking behavioral health care
– Asian patients are likely to express psychological distress as physical complaints

General cont…
– Language Knowledge of English is one of the most important factors influencing access to care. 
– Level of acculturation Typically, it takes three generations for immigrants to fully adopt the lifestyle of the dominant culture.
– Age In general, the younger people are when they migrate, the more readily they adapt
– Gender Historically, men have acculturated more rapidly than women
– Occupational Issues: Sometimes, women earn more than men, thereby disrupting family expectations and traditional values

Tips for Providers
– Checking for understanding is critical. It is all too easy to misinterpret a common gesture as agreement or understanding when the patient is actually confused or even resistant to a diagnosis/treatment.
– Asian patients/families will often be reluctant to complain or ask for clarification
– Avoiding the use of yes/no questions is very important.
– Establish the professional’s role and assume authority.
– Check for understanding
– Be patient, and consider periods of silence opportunities for reflection on what has been said.

Tips for Providers
– Provide clear and full information, such as what is expected from each participant in the discussion.
– Be attentive to nonverbal cues—Most Asian cultures have high-context communication styles.
– Address immediate needs and give concrete advice.
– Avoid direct conflict and reach consensus by compromising.
– It’s most effective to educate the entire family while treating the patient.
– When seeing Asian-American patients, the family often accompanies the patient to the interview room

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