Narratives and Culture: "Thickening" the Self for Cultural Psychotherapy

The dominant framework for understanding selfhood in contemporary psychology has been one that privileges a highly individualistic conception of self. This is reflected in both the language and approaches of psychotherapy where the influence of contextual factors are given marginal consideration in order to maintain some type of 'objectivity' or 'neutrality' in counseling. We argue that an understanding of selfhood which does not take into account the 'relational' nature of selfhood as well as the cultural or historical context of the client, will likely alienate clients who do not view their self through the individualized lenses of psychology. In order to deal with this problem, we adopt an approach to cultural psychology that views the self as a relational narrative. Such a narrative does not imply an unrestricted freedom to construct our self, but understands the limits to selfhood implied in the web of meanings constitutive of our culture and the web of relations from which our self emerges. 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Keywords narratives   culture   self   cultural psychotherapy   counseling   cross-cultural psychology   relations
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DOI 10.1037/h0091228
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