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Culturally Competent Practices with South Asian Muslims Fyeqa I. Sheikh & Krishna J.V. Chari The Chicago School of Professional Psychology
One of the largest ethnic minorities in the U.S. with a projected population of 5.5 million (Assisi, n.d). Muslims are marginalized due to the socio-political climate of U.S. which impacts mental health services and provisions. Muslim and South Asian American individuals are diverse both culturally and religiously. Culturally competent guidelines are a necessity when working with South Asian-American Muslim families. South Asian-American Muslims
Understanding Islam • Monotheistic religion that began in the 7th century when the Qur’an (holy book) was revealed by Allah (God) to the prophet Mohammed. • Qur’an encompasses spiritual, social, and political ideals, i.e. Shari’ah. • Five pillars of Islam: declaration of faith, praying five times a day, giving a percentage of one’s wealth to the poor, fasting in the month of Ramadan, and going on a pilgrimage to Mecca. • Women and men are seen as equals in Islam. • Alcohol, pork, premarital sex, and homosexuality are prohibited in Islam.
Obstacles Faced by South Asian-American Adolescents and Parents • Adolescents often lead double lives, adhering to cultural and religious values as well as “American” values. • Parents fear: • Losing children to “American” culture. • Loss of authority over their children. • Lack of ability to discipline in a customary fashion. • Loss of authority to select the child’s mate. • Embarrassment in the community due to their child’s behavior. (Baptise, 2005) • Adolescents’ tendency to conform to Western culture may cause conflict between children and parents.
Barriers to Treatment • A general stigma of shame and embarrassment towards therapy exists in South Asian culture. • A therapist working from a Western perspective may have different opinions on parenting practices and lifestyle in comparison to S.A. Muslims (Baptise, 2005). • South Asian culture places less of an emphasis on discussing problems (Gupta, Johnstone, and Gleeson,2007). • Language barriers between therapist and client or within families between children and parents. • When working with a therapist from the same culture, S.A. Muslims may fear that family secrets will be exposed to the community.
Protective Factors and Resources • Downward social comparison: adolescent views others’ experiences as more difficult than their own. • Normalizing: talking with peers and realizing they are facing similar issues. • Devaluing American culture: focusing on negative impact of alcohol and other societal norms. (Gupta, Johnstone, & Gleason, 2007) • Extended family: support in parenting and socialization. • “Back home resources”: reintroduction into one’s culture can diffuse conflict.
Selected References • Assisi, F. (n.d). Desi Americans to cross 4.5 million in 2010. Retrieved February, 19th , 2009 from http://www.indolink.com/displayArticleS.php?id=082206120155 • Baptise, D.A. (2005). Family therapy with East Indian immigrant parents rearing children in the United States: Parental concerns, therapeutic issues and recommendations. Contemporary Family Therapy, 27(3), 345-366. • Gupta, V., Johnstone, L., & Gleeson, K. (2007). Exploring the meaning of separation in second generation young South Asian women in Britain. Psychology and Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 80, 481-495.
Conclusions • Working effectively as a psychology practitioner requires an awareness and appreciation of both the therapist’s and client’s unique background. South Asian Muslim clients are extremely heterogeneous and cannot be viewed through a myopic lens. • Culturally competent therapists must have a solid understanding of Islamic values and practices as well as South Asian ideals when working with this population. A recognition and sensitivity to South Asian Muslim’s risk and resiliency factors also allows a deeper understanding of how these ideals and values function in Western and U.S society. • The competencies above serve merely as recommendations for working with South Asian Muslims, and by no means constitute an exhaustive list.