Thoughts and behaviors enable humans to navigate through life but when they become dysfunctional or maladaptive it interferes with an individual’s functioning Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) incorporates these in its approach by emphasizing the significance of cognition and behavior for emotional regulation. It also focuses on the case conceptualization and the specific structure for each therapy session Multicultural according to Ivey, Ivey & Zalaquett (2010) in their book is defined as “broadly to include race/ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, spiritual orientation, age, physical ability/disability, socioeconomic status, geographical location, and other factors” Several attempts have been made to adapt CBT in the eastern society of India which is one of the oldest economies with an ingrained system of beliefs and traditions.
While it is an emerging as a nation with all the advancements but still a majority of its population resides in the rural area and lacks even the basic amenities. Many of the beliefs related to mental health equate it with insanity in India because of a lack of awareness hence the problem is not brought in the knowledge of a medical professional but rather a faith healer. This gives birth to an important need for psychotherapists to include the traditional practices such as cultural values, mythological texts for reference in their psychotherapy process to make it simpler for the local people The current paper focuses on appraising the CBT in light of its multicultural implications specific to Indian culture.
India is home to diverse cultures which encompasses spiritual underpinnings to the beliefs and values that people hold and in turn influences their personality and the world view is this that the Indians are highly influenced by their religious and cultural values that outward expression of their feelings and emotions is a sign of weakness and exploring it in the therapy is difficult as clients may engage in cultural defense.
The Indian society focuses on the relationship with others as important and defining elements of self, CBT formulation also focuses on the childhood events and the child’s relationship with others which reinforces the client’s own beliefs thus making the prognosis better.
In Bhagwat Gita mythological text of one of the Indian cultures shows arjuna (mythological character) exhibiting cognitive distortions while under stress and Lord Krishna (God) helping him out which similarities the client-therapist relationship of CBT where the therapist makes the client aware of his cognitive distortion and help them through it talked about the hanuman complex where hanuman (client) forgot about his abilities because of a curse but jambavan (therapist) made him realize his abilities, this concept resembles the strength-based CBT where the therapist helps the client by incorporating client’s strength into the therapy. Such similarities between CBT and Indian mythology makes it one of the preferred approach to use with clients as they can easily understand and relate with it.
Another prevalent belief of karma among the Indian masses states that an individual can change whatever is happening to them by the awareness and an attempt to change ourselves. This correlates with mindfulness approaches of Dialectical Behavior Therapy and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy which focus on bringing attention to the present and becoming aware of our surroundings (Balodhi, 1999). Indian clients often look up to their therapist as GURU meaning teachers who would enlighten them and help them in solving their problems.
The therapeutic relationship of CBT also resembles this idea where the therapist provides complete knowledge to the client about his problems with the process of psychoeducation. This helps in the initial rapport formation among the client and the therapist as it reinforces the guru chela relationship.
Indian culture places importance on the relationships and individual’s hold with others during their lifetime as their sense of self Is embedded among these relations. Similarly, CBT also emphasizes an individual’s relationship with others to extract an individual’s core beliefs and assumptions related to the self and the world. Thus, reinforcing their belief system.
Although the above-mentioned techniques of CBT serve as a perfect fit for Indian culture but still other few are not applicable. For e.g. the technique of Socratic dialogue needs to be revised by adding more elements of support and direction rather than just self-help by including their significant others into the therapy. As CBT originated in the west it has it’s base in western thought whereas India is an eastern economy with almost everything different for e.g.: western society operates on a cognitive model whereas eastern society specifically India operates in an emotional mode (Laungani,1997)
CBT approaches its clients with an individualistic framework while Indians believe in collectivism which is a major pitfall. Along with this CBT only focuses on the individual while ignoring the bigger problems manifesting in the family or the evolution of their culture which might lead to misinterpretation of the client’s experiences.
The literacy rate among Indians is very low while CBT requires a higher level of intellectualization which could not be deciphered by the local people. Hence, the usage of more culturally appropriate language would drastically increase the adherence to the therapy.
Including excerpts from Indian mythology in the practice of psychotherapy could help the clients build the initial trust with the therapist. The therapist should state examples from Indian culture in the therapy process so that the clients are better able to understand the concept. Even the themes of core beliefs for e.g. I am unlovable, the world is cruel are all westernized patterns of thinking and could be replaced with eastern patterns of thinking like God is happy with me, I am fortunate, etc. Even positive data log seemed to be a difficult technique for Indian clients to understand because of the difficulty of translation as English is neither their first nor preferred language.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is the most effective to make a person positive. CBT is really helpful for a person who is suffering from a mental disorder. Not only in foreign countries, CBT is famous in India also As its results are found to be very good.
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