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Cultural Sensitivity in Relational Therapy: Navigating Diverse Relationships

Updated: Dec 22, 2023

We are, as human beings, in a time where we are more sensitive to other people than we have ever been. This is true on a macro and on a micro level. The more we learn about cultures and the differences within and between them, the more we can bring this cultural sensitivity to our interpersonal relationships. Relational therapy at The Holding Space encourages the understanding of diverse perspectives and fosters an environment where this newfound cultural sensitivity can be skillfully integrated into our connections with others.

We all have a story. Actually, we all have many stories that we carry around with us for our entire lives. These stories usually live in our unconscious realm until we decide to become aware of them. When you decide to do some deep digging into your psyche, you get to learn about these stories... where they originated, if you truly believe them, and how they affect your daily life and relationships.

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Acknowledging & Understanding Culutural Differences in Relational Therapy

In the therapy room, we learn about these stories and your familial roots. We explore the diversity within your family system and within your relationships. We also explore, or at the very least name, the cultural differences within our relationship as therapist to client. When a client comes in to see us who has a very different cultural background than their therapist, it is very healthy and productive to name this difference. It is important that your therapist is aware that they have a different lived experience than you have had. If we do not acknowledge these differences, we are ignoring a crucial part of your person.

It is all too easy in our busy lives and busy world to feel “missed” by others; we do not want that to be a part of our relationship as therapists to our clients and want to do all that we can to make you feel seen, heard, gotten, and felt. The same goes within your interpersonal relationships in the world. When you partner up with a person, there is a pretty good chance they have a different lived experience than you; do not ignore these differences. Talk about them. Get curious with them. Know them. Gender, sexual preferences, race, ethnicity, languages, political views, socioeconomic, generational, and religious backgrounds... these are all parts of what comprises a holistic being and there is so much to talk about within each of those areas!

Overcoming the Fear of Saying the 'Wrong Thing'

Oftentimes, people do not know how to talk about these differences. They are afraid to say the “wrong thing” to someone. Remember when I mentioned earlier that we are in a most sensitive time in our world, both macro and micro? Well, what I mean is that we are hyperaware of a myriad of differences and that we need to, out of respect and compassion, be aware of and sensitive to these differences in order for people to feel accepted, loved, and even, at times, understood. With this high sensitivity, people are all the more afraid to say a “wrong thing” and offend someone. I promise that that is alright if the intention is coming from love. I will explain what I mean.

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Growing Together: Transformative Steps in Cultural Sensitivity

Have you heard the term “misgendering”? That is when someone calls someone by a pronoun that is not that person’s preferred pronoun in how they identify. For example, I can be talking to a client about her partner, who is non binary and prefers to use “they/them” pronouns and accidentally ask my client “what does she (the client’s partner) think about all of this?”. I have just misgendered my client’s partner. There is room for offense, anger, disrespect, and that “missed” feeling to occur on the end of the client. There is also room for humanness, repair, and humility on the end of the therapist. If I misgender my client’s partner, realize it, and keep talking out of fear of shining light on this mistake, that is where the mistake actually lies. However, if I accidentally misgender my client’s partner, realize it, slow down, and name what I just did with no excuse and just with my humanness that has erred, there is room for repair and can possibly prevent a rupture altogether.

Do you see the massive difference in the way to handle this? It isn’t about the accidental misgendering; it is about the awareness and the attempt to correct it once realized. We are not perfect beings and we will err in many ways. When we say something that offends a person’s cultural experience in their life, that is not the end of the world. If we are aware enough to name this, apologize and ask what else we should know to be more aware, we are truly doing the best that we can.

Being receptive to learning about another’s culture and differences is imperative in building solid relationships. We can’t pretend to know what someone’s experience has been, even if it looks somewhat similar to ours. Get curious. Ask. Learn. Connect.

Begin your Cultural Sensitivity Journey through Relational Therapy with The Holding Space in Los Angeles, CA Today!

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Embark on a transformative journey of cultural sensitivity and connection with Relational Therapy in Los Angeles, CA at The Holding Space. Our experienced therapists are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where diverse perspectives are honored and celebrated. Take the first step towards cultivating richer, more meaningful relationships by reaching out to us. Explore the depth of cultural understanding and connection by following the steps below:

1. Reach out to schedule a consultation.

3. Foster understanding connections today!

Other Therapy Services Offered by The Holding Space in Los Angeles, CA

At The Holding Space, we provide more than just Relational Therapy in Los Angeles, CA. We offer many different kinds of therapy to help people manage their mental health and well-being better. Our experienced therapists focus on areas like Anxiety treatment, Couples Therapy, Depression treatment, Addiction Therapy, Art Therapy, Brainspotting Therapy, and LGBTQ+ Affirmative Therapy. We also talk about common issues like relationships, family, parenting, codependency, illness, and trauma. Whether you're seeking help for relational issues or any other aspect of your life, our Los Angeles-based practice is here for you. Reach out today to explore the support we offer and take the first step toward better connections and a more balanced life.

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