Engaging cultural perspectives has been shown to enhance treatment outcomes for substance use issues and co-occurring mental health issues among culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities. Few services document the way they provide services to CALD clients. This paper responds to this gap by exploring the ways in which alcohol and other drug (AOD) counsellors at a specialist service balance cultural relevance with fidelity to a combination of psychosocial interventions. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted with all counsellors (n=6) and half of the clients (n=24) at an AOD counselling service in Sydney, NSW. Interviews employed screening questions to explore the combination of counselling techniques, alongside bilingual counselling roles and information provided to clients about counselling at the service. Interviews were conducted in four major languages spoken by clients of the service: Arabic (n=1), English (n=16), Mandarin (n=2) and Vietnamese (n=5). This paper identifies 10 strategies for culturally relevant treatment, including addressing clients' understanding of counselling, offering counselling in the client's preferred language and enquiring about the importance of cultural identity to each client. Counsellors reflected upon the interpretability of psychosocial interventions in particular languages, and explained flexible responses which integrate elements of cultural philosophy and communication styles into the practice of counselling. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services continue to demonstrate the role that culture can play in enhancing treatment outcomes. Following this example, further research that interrogates a "one-size fits all" approach with culturally diverse clients is called for.
Communication, Medicine and Ethics 11th Interdisciplinary Conference, 2013
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