The Korean-American Goldilocks of Psychotherapy

1146 WordsJun 15, 20185 Pages
“They would not be able to help me and I do not need their help anyway” is a common answer given by Korean-Americans when asked why they do not utilize mental health services, such as psychotherapy. This response broadly reflects two of the predominant reasons why Korean-Americans largely oppose the notion of Western psychotherapy. For one, there is the widespread opinion among the Korean-American population that the psychotherapist or mental health specialist conceives of the problems and solutions using a framework that differs from the cultural beliefs held by Korean-Americans (Kim & Ryu, 2005). Korean-Americans are inclined to believe that Western psychotherapy cannot be helpful in resolving their issues because the therapist will…show more content…
In the Korean-America culture, chae-myun is a concept that safeguards the clients “dignity, honor, and self-respect” (Kim & Ryu, 2005, p. 356). By providing unconditional positive regard the therapist is able to demonstrate that the information that the client is telling the therapist does not affect the therapist’s perception of the client as a human being and that the therapist still accepts the client (Rogers, 1961b). Additionally, through protecting the client’s chae-myun and reassuring the client that the therapist will both respect and accept them regardless of what they say, the therapist is able to lessen the fear within the client that they could loss their chae-myun or that they could offend the therapist’s chae-myun in therapy (Kim & Ryu, 2005). This reduction in the risk of losing their chae-myun and feeling shameful is a gift that the therapist can give during the first session (Sue & Zane, 2009). The gift allows the Korean-American client to be open about sharing potentially embarrassing information about their life (Kim & Ryu, 2005). Furthermore, in conjunction with the non-directive and non-authoritative approach of the therapist, the protection of chae-myun, allows the client to alert and correct the therapist when they are not in congruence—making for a better therapeutic alliance (Kim & Ryu, 2005). Therefore, person-centered psychotherapy is a good match for Korean-American clients because it respects the Korean-American

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