20 Chapters
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CHAPTER SIX: Connectedness and rationality

Krause, Inga-Britt Karnac Books ePub

From the previous chapters it should be clear that a systemic view is not automatically culture-free. We have replaced our idea of a cybernetic (mechanical) system with a social system, and a social system cannot be perceived or examined outside the cultural themes and meanings that provide the reasons for persons in it to be engaged with each other. However, as I described in chapter four, it is a characteristic of a social system as a generalization that describing it does not implicate value judgements. The fact that persons are related does not tell us anything about whether these persons are happy or unhappy in their relationships. What can, then, be said to be a human condition or a human theme—and in this sense to be “culture-free”—is connectedness. In all social systems, persons are connected to each other and to general more-or-less patterns and ideas about how things should be done. And this also extends to things and artefacts that behind them have social relations. Social systems are therefore characterized by relationality, both in organization and in process. But connectedness cannot by itself explain information, because connectedness is a condition for culturally constructed processes of interaction and communication. The interaction and the communication cannot take place without relatedness or connectedness being there in the first place. There is a wide variety of ways in which persons can be connected to each other, just as there is a variety of ways in which certain tasks can be performed, but the variation is not infinite, because all the different solutions must meet the requirements of human conditions. Nevertheless, the existence of variety means that relationality must be distinguished from rational-ity.

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CHAPTER EIGHT: The personal and the professional: core beliefs and the construction of bridges across difference

Karnac Books ePub

Barry Mason

Introduction

This is a chapter that has evolved out of practice, theory, and personal experience. It arises from a long-standing focus on the relationship between the development of my own personal core beliefs and the influence of those beliefs on my clinical work as a family and systemic psychotherapist working with individuals, couples, and families from different cultures and religions. A central question for me has become not only how I can help clients find a systemic both–and position, and how the therapeutic relationship can encompass a both–and position, but also, to what extent I can find such a position in relation to my personal beliefs and my professional task. Some of the content herein comes from a certain disillusionment with some of the more recent developments in family therapy, and could be said to be a continuation of the work that contributed to the publication of the book, Exploring the Unsaid (Mason & Sawyerr, 2002), which sought to encourage practitioners to take more risks in working cross-culturally. This was based on the view that interpretations of the developments in theory and practice were hindering, as well as aiding, us in creating effective clinical work. As Alice Sawyerr and I wrote in our introduction to that book, “to develop intimacy, to develop closeness of whatever kind, one has to be prepared to take chances and risk vulnerability” (p. xix). This chapter is written with that in mind.

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CHAPTER THREE: What would (or can) I know? Reflections on the conditions of knowing and understanding in intercultural therapy

Karnac Books ePub

Carmel Flaskas

I wrote the abstract for this chapter in the week in which the Prime Minister of the newly elected Labour government of Australia made an apology to indigenous peoples for the wrongs of the past. “Sorry day”, with all the talking and the memories and the associations that surrounded it, with all the acknowledgments and the witnessing, had a poignant mix of sorrow, pain, hope, and undeserved tenuous trust. Not for the first time, as a non-indigenous and white Australian, I experienced the generosity in the involvement of Aboriginal and Islander peoples, and felt unworthy and grateful in the face of it. It was a moment of connection and a move toward reconciliation. It was also a time for comprehending the chasm of difference between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia, and the chasm of difference between the tears of indigenous and non-indigenous Australians with respect to our shared past and our shared present.

I feel a kind of fraud writing in this book, for I belong to that group of therapists who are socially and contextually the most illiterate in their personal capacities for intercultural work. I felt nothing but unselfconsciously “at home” culturally and racially in my childhood, growing up in a local milieu of a largely homogeneous culture in the 1960s. With three of my four grandparents coming from different cultures (Irish, Greek, Danish), this would have to stand as a kind of achievement (for better and worse) of assimilation within an immigrant nation, and an achievement of my grandparents and parents. I am still bemused when people ask if I have “gone back” to my heri-tage—which one, I wonder, and why? I am unaware of any cultural yearnings, and just think of myself as coming from Brisbane. But, although I admit I would be hard-pushed to yearn for Brisbane, I would yearn for Australia if I could not live here, for it is my homeland. And while unconsciously I might have inherited intergenera-tional orientations to surviving the experience of alienation and cultural bereftness, I have had to learn as an adult, consciously and bit by bit, some literacy in the intimate experience of foreignness and otherness, and some fluency in relating to, through, and across culture and race.

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CHAPTER NINE: From Macpherson to ethnography

Krause, Inga-Britt Karnac Books ePub

In this final chapter, I offer an overview of the processes described in this book. This may be seen as an introduction to the exercise that I outline in the Appendix which therapists and other health professionals can use either by themselves or in teams when they feel stuck over cross-cultural issues, be this in therapy or in organizational dynamics.

I have implied that just like in any other form of communication, communication in therapy is an uncertain process. No one can ever know the full extent of the patterns and processes that are implicated in and impact on what we do, feel, and think, and in social life it is a matter of fit, of more-or-less patterns rather than rigid rules. These are observations about social life in general, and if they hold for ourselves they also hold for others, regardless of cultural and social background. I have specifically been writing about cross-cultural work, but it follows that no clear boundaries can be drawn between cross-cultural and intra-cultural work. In one sense, therefore, good practice is no less than good cross-cultural practice, and we are therefore also addressing much wider issues of ethics and clinical governance. But we must also be aware that difference of colour and culture is a special case because differences of this nature easily become vehicles for politics, hierarchy, and other social processes, in particular obfuscating ways (Gilroy, 2000; Wallerstein, 2000). This is why the Macpherson Report on the inquiry into the murder of Stephen Lawrence is a milestone in race relations in Britain.

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CHAPTER SIX:Cultural and family ethos in systemic therapy

Karnac Books ePub

Paolo Bertrando

“The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. (One is unable to notice something—because it is always before one’s eyes.) The real foundations of his enquiry do not strike a man at all. Unless that fact has at some time struck him.—And this means: we fail to be struck by what, once seen, is most striking and most powerful”

(Wittgenstein, 1953, p. 29)

In this chapter, I will outline the evolution of my own practice in the light of my experience with other cultures, both in supervision of cases around the world, and in my everyday work— however limited—with minority or ethnic groups. Such experiences have made me slightly suspicious of my own attitude toward “simple” or “taken-for-granted” cases—cases where I think I know everything about clients because I have the (erroneous) feeling they are “just like me”. In order to deal with this phenomenon, we have to reflect on the nature of families, on the one hand, and of culture, on the other.

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