Immigrants, culture, and ethnicity in therapy : an approach to therapy and case management

Immigration has been an integral part of American history as a nation, since the beginning. In the past few decades, new immigrants in this country have been from a more diverse culture and ethnicity than the immigrants before them who were mostly Europeans. Today's immigrants have to face many difficulties created by cultural differences and lowering of socioeconomic status. Their attempts to cope and adjust to life and environmental changes such as culture, economic, educational, language, and family relations, as well as decrease in social support, have resulted in increased distress and health problems, family relations problems, and many mental health disorders. Despite immigrants ' need for support in many of these difficulties, there are very limited resources available and few counselors trained, to help with these issues. In order to address some of these issues, an extensive multidisciplinary literature review was conducted in order to identify role of culture, ethnicity, and other related topics to counseling immigrants in a mental health setting. Review of the literature indicates that most research on immigrants has been conducted within the frame of a specific culture. Therefore, the information obtained from these materials was compared and contrasted in order to find common grounds across different cultures. Furthermore, a manual based on the literature reviews was then created to offer basic guidelines and provide relevant information for mental health professionals and to help them become better aware of circumstances concerning immigrants. A Culture-Centered approach was suggested with specific recommendations regarding immigrants in the final chapter of the manual. In conclusion, a basic format for creation of a satellite community mental health agency geared toward providing counseling and case management services to immigrant population was suggested.