Identity is a reflection of one's culture in its very broadest sense. It can incorporate multiple life domains including gender, nationality, ethnicity, geographical location (rural or urban), spiritual beliefs, age, sexual orientation, relationship status, class, health or disability status, and educational experiences.
Some people, when thinking of attending counselling to discuss personal concerns, would ideally like to speak with someone whose background and values approximate their own. For instance, a student from China might like to meet with a person who has visited China and understands the values of their community. An older person who has lived through a period of tumult in their own society may wish to meet with someone around the same age with knowledge of particular societal events. A gay or lesbian student may wish to meet a counsellor who is very comfortable with her/his own sexual experiences and preferences.
Other individuals may instead prefer to speak with a counsellor from a completely different background to their own, perhaps to gain different perspectives on their issues.
At Counselling and Psychological Services, staff members come from a range of backgrounds. If you have any particular preferences, please tell the receptionist when you are making an appointment and we will endeavour to place you with someone of your choice.
For students making the transition from another country to study temporarily or to settle permanently in Australia, our counsellors are particularly familiar with issues of cultural adaptation.
At times, it may not be possible to arrange an appointment with a counsellor whose background reflects your own cultural, religious or identity group. However, you can be assured that all counsellors are selected on the basis of their capacity to empathise and to show respect for individual and group differences. They are experienced in working with a variety of people and presenting issues, and will work to put you at ease so that trust in the counselling process can be built.
Counsellors also endeavour to become more familiar with the mores and experiences of particular cultural and identity groups through specific professional development activities. In the first session, your counsellor may ask about your own cultural beliefs and general life experiences as they affect you, in order to more clearly understand you and your concerns.