Considerations for Clinicians When Working Cross-Culturally: A Review

Shanna Logan, Caroline Hunt


Communication between cultural groups, termed intercultural communication, is often difficult or not successful within a mental health setting. It is important to gain a greater understanding of intercultural communication, in order to provide appropriate treatment and care. This literature review first defines what is meant by intercultural communication, before examining the literature on the intercultural dynamics that must be considered when working cross-culturally within a mental health setting. Particular focus is given to the clinical interview, as it is the key mode of communication within therapeutic practice. Intercultural communication is a dynamic process, and to be effective many socio-cultural factors must be considered. Theoretical models of effective intercultural communication within a health context highlight the need for clinicians to possess cultural knowledge and communication skills; however, the utility of such models is yet to be assessed. The research suggests that cultural competency training is one method to promote more effective intercultural communication within a mental health setting, with cultural adaptations to therapies and assessment tools shown to increase communication effectiveness.


Intercultural communication; Cross-cultural psychology; Mental health services; Patient-clinician Relations

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