I remember being in grade school and hearing the age-old cliché, “Big boys don’t cry,” whenever a male peer began to show he was upset about something.
At the time, I didn’t think twice about it, and I’m sure there were moments when I repeated those very words, not realizing the harm I was doing. Regardless of intention, I now see that these types of subtle messages convey a normative stance of stoicism, invulnerability, and detachment that contribute to toxic ideals of masculinity.
It seems that workplaces, schools, companies, and organizations are increasingly paying more attention to diversity and culture lately.
While this growing interest is encouraging, there are times when there is a significant lack of follow-through regarding the attention these issues receive. This is a disservice to everyone involved, but it comes at a special price in the realm of therapy.
I know of several graduate programs that pride themselves on their emphasis on diversity, yet have only a few course offerings specifically related to the topic and do not consistently revisit cultural issues throughout other courses.
With regard to psychology and therapy, the lack of consistent attention to cultural issues has the potential to create and maintain impasses that can affect the client’s progress.
As aspiring mental health professionals, we have the best of intentions in our work with clients. It is very important, however, to assess for cultural importance and issues of diversity in our first meetings with clients and then to be mindful of the ways we communicate with those clients moving forward.