chapter  1
27 Pages

Clinical practice with Asian immigrants: unpacking and re-packing theories and meanings

Clinical theories in the behavioral sciences are bodies of knowledge that attempt to make sense of the complexities of human nature and behavior. They inform the way we focus on the interplay of thoughts, emotions, and behavior in our assessment and intervention with clients. Over the years we have seen theories rise and fall, with new theories building on existing concepts and reflecting the social, political, and cultural ideologies of their times (Applegate, 2000; Berzoff et al., 2011). With the advent of post-modern practice approaches that examine the social construction of meanings and identities in shaping human emotions and behavior (Anderson, 2005; Neimeyer and Bridges, 2003), there has been much recognition that clinical theories, influenced by Euro-American values, need to be deconstructed and reconstructed to better reflect the diversity of client populations who may adhere to drastically different worldviews and behavioral norms (Bonner, 2002; Hodge and Nadir, 2008; Lokken and Twohey, 2004; Manning et al., 2004; Nye, 2005; Sue and Sue, 2003). For those of us who work with Asian immigrants in our clinical practice, the implication is that we need to be able to distill the inherent Western cultural values that are embedded in theories and redefine them in an Asiacentric context (Nagai, 2007).