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Cross-Cultural Counseling, Reaction Paper Example

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Reaction Paper

In the pastoral counseling session in question, in which a mixed race couple consisting of a Caucasian woman and African-American male are experiencing difficulties with their respective families because of familial and cultural differences, the pastor counseling session takes the form of a dialogue, in which the precise issues at stake are identified and solutions from a Christian faith based perspective are advanced. These two aspects thus inform the basic counseling approach to the case in question.

Insofar as the couple has approached the pastor for counseling advice, this demonstrates their commitment to resolving the problems with their families from the position of the Christian faith. Accordingly, there is no tension between the proposed faith-based solution and the answers which the couple themselves is seeking. The couple does not have difficulties with their racial and cultural differences. Rather, it is the family that is provoking the difficulties in their relationship. Hence, the status of their relationship to the family becomes the crucial problematic to be resolved.

In terms of the counseling process, it would therefore be recommended to the pastor to firstly support the couples’ decision for a Christian counseling relationship in order to resolve their problems. This will help underscore the strength of their marriage to the husband and wife, as the stress produced by the family may incite doubts in the workability of their own union. In this regard, appealing to the faith of the couple is paramount, as it should be made clear to them that from a Christian perspective, their marriage is wholly embraced. Citing various relevant scriptural texts which recall the universality of the message of Jesus Christ underscores that as Christians they belong to a shared community. Their apparent cultural and racial differences are thus secondary in light of their relationship to the universality of Christ and their love for each other. Furthermore, using scripture, it would be recommended to emphasize that racial and cultural difference from a Christian perspective merely highlight the different paths that we take as individuals to reaching Christ’s message. Christ’s experiences with religious, racial, and ethnic differences are a context within which his message emerged: these various differences did not detract from the universality of the message. Hence, to summarize, it is initially important for the pastor to stress the validity of their marriage to the husband and wife themselves, emphasizing the strength of their union and love in light of the love of Christ.

From this foundation, it is then possible to approach specific problems that are being experienced, so as to place them in their proper context. It is clear that a reason for conflict lies in a racism existing in the respective families, which is a socially conditioned phenomenon that may have extended for generations. It is important to open a dialogue with the couple, whereby each expresses their own views on the particular problems and thus try to delineate precisely what are the key issues that are being faced and how this harms both their marriage and their shared lives with their extended families. The couple should be encouraged to share why they themselves think these difficulties have arisen.

Whereas in this type of dialogic setting, sensitive themes may be introduced, the openness of the conversation must be stressed, so that the constitutive elements of the difficulty can be made lucid. Specifics here must therefore include the identification of where the problems are coming from (i.e., particular family members). While it is important to not encroach upon the privacy of the couple, insofar as they have come to the pastor for counseling, it is important to make clear that the more open they are regarding the problem, the easier it will be to find a resolution.

After identifying the specific problems, appropriate problem solving solutions may be advanced. Above all, since the couple has approached the pastor for advice, this indicates that they desire a Christian resolution to the problem; accordingly, it is important to understand the extent to which the family members who have engendered problems within their relationship are themselves Christian. This is crucial to discern, as the solutions offered will come from a Christian perspective, and thus from a commitment to scriptural authority and the life of Christ. To the extent that the family members involved do not confer an importance to Christ’s message, this is a potentially key difficulty and impasse to potential resolution of the conflict from a Christian perspective. This may even force a new course of action, and the pastor may perhaps be forced to consider that counseling from a secular source is required to address the problem. This, however, does not inhibit the couple’s continuing visits to the pastor, who will support them personally from a Christian perspective.

However, if the members of the family are, for example, members of the pastor’s congregation, consulting the couple if they would like to invite the family members in question to become part of the pastor counseling process would be a step forward. This would allow for the pastor to extend the dialogue of the situation, as the pastor becomes open to the respective viewpoints and logic of all those involved. At the same time, the foundation of the Christian faith would determine the approach to the problem, as an appeal to the Christianity would become a shared horizon for those involved to consider their relationships to each other.

Accordingly, the advice to the pastor can be summarized as follows: it is firstly decisive to emphasize to the couple the value of their marriage from a solely Christian perspective, irrespective of their familial problems: this stresses the universality of the Christian community as without exception and provides them with some much-needed support. Secondly, it is necessary to identify the specific problems that are negatively affecting the marriage, i.e., identifying how opposition to the marriage is being expressed, by which family members, in which way, etc. This will allow for the identification of possible forms or resolution. The primary difficulty would be that the family members in question do not adhere to the Christian faith, such that approaching the issue from this perspective will not change the family’s opinions. Whereas this could also be used as an opportunity to invite these family members to participate in dialogue, a secular approach to counseling may be required. In the case that both families are practicing Christians, if the couple so chooses, it is thus possible to extend the parameters of the counseling sessions, and invite the family members in question to discuss their viewpoints on the matter. In this situation, it is once again the universality of the Christian faith that is to be underscored: the love without exception of Jesus Christ as a model for all our actions will guide the approach to counseling.

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