Jul 28, 2015


The Influence of Worldview on the Therapeutic Relationship: Counseling Hispanic Clients

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Some Hispanic Americans tend to have a distrustful view toward non-Hispanic Americans mental health professionals, due  in part to the long history of hostility, prejudice and injustice they have experienced as a group. Catholicism has also had a great influence on the worldview of Hispanics in general. The relationship between a non-Hispanic counselor and Hispanic client could be influenced by that. For example, when a Caucasian counselor who is not culturally competent regarding the influences of those elements attempts to create rapport with a client, there is a possibility that he or she will fail in that attempt (Sue & Sue, 2008).

Acknowledge Differences to Make a Difference

The traditional therapeutic worldview of some non-Hispanics could be a barrier in genuinely understanding why the disconnect exists. Lack of training or experience might be part of the problem as well. Demonstrative, tactic interaction among Hispanics is considered normal within the culture and this might need to be acknowledged in the counseling session on some level although that might not be the same norm in the European American culture. Feeling social and intimate creates a sense of familiarity and comfort for most Hispanics and therefore, if the counselor is emotionally and socially distant and cold, it can inadvertently put a barrier between the client and the counselor (Sue & Sue, 2008).

Acknowledge the Role of Religion

Hispanics might seek counseling from someone who they believe they can relate to better, such as another Hispanic. Although this might not necessarily be fair or guaranteed, it starts them off with a greater sense of trust in the process of counseling. Catholicism influences this group greatly and they are more likely to seek guidance form a church leader before they would a professional, clinical authority figure (Sue & Sue, 2008).

Acknowledge Family and Friends as Vital Partners 

It is also very important that a non-Hispanic counselor recognize how intricate family and friends are to the every day life of most people of Hispanic heritage. This is a fact that must be affirmed and recognized as vital rather than dysfunctional within that group.  Godmothers, aunts, cousins and other family members carry a lot of weight in the care of the entire family as a unit. They must be valued and considered influential and important to each client as a general rule (Sue & Sue, 2008).


By Xiomara A. Sosa

Clinical Mental Health – Forensic Counselor (Intern)

XAS Consulting, LLC (www.xasconsulting.com)


Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2008). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Xiomara A. Sosa

Xiomara A. Sosa

Xiomara A. Sosa is Founder and Principal of XAS Consulting, LLC (XAS), a boutique hybrid private practice she founded in 2003 to integrate the role of mental health, physical health, and human services efforts in providing culturally competent services to the Hispanic, veteran and sexual minority (LGBTQQIA) communities and to first and second responders. Xiomara is a clinical mental health – forensic counselor, a nonprofit executive, a social change advocate, and a United States military veteran. She provides clinical mental health-forensic counseling; community relations; disaster mental health; healthcare advocacy; therapeutic life coaching; and service to the armed forces. Xiomara practices a progressive, innovative path to integrative health by combining mental healthcare, physical healthcare, and human services. As an integrative healthcare provider she works with individuals, couples and families of mixed ages and genders. She is bilingual (Spanish) and provides services in private consultation, by telephone or electronically. As a multicultural counselor her cultural competency is especially focused on working with the Hispanic, veteran, and sexual and gender minority (LGBTQQIA) communities. Full bio at http://xasconsulting.com/?page_id=195

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  1. What an interesting, relate-able article. When I saw my therapist (of a different ethnicity) I found myself keeping things from her thinking that she just wouldn’t understand. I think in general Latinos feel most comfortable within their own culture since there’s that automatic connection.

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