Couple therapists are often surprised and challenged by the contrast between their clients’ and their own assumptions regarding intimate relationships . Cultural backgrounds and ethnic differences often present unique challenges to and opportunities for therapists in maintaining a working alliance with couples where these differences become prominent . Consider the following example of one therapist’s experience:

A therapist’s frustration or misunderstanding when working with clients holding different cultural expectations can produce unfavorable results, as demonstrated in the preceding case example in which the therapist and male client held differing beliefs regarding gender roles . An inability to attune to these differences appropriately also undermines the therapeutic alliance, which may compound the risk of negative client outcomes . Therapists face many challenges when working with clients from diverse backgrounds and need to be aware and respectful of clients’ cultural heritages .