Bob the Blogging Badger

Bob is a badger; he likes to blog.

Cultural Competency - A Military Perspective

Cultural Competency - A Military Perspective

When thinking of culture, first thing that comes to mind for most people is the culture of a certain country or ethnic group. However, working fields also have a specific culture. The military, for example, has a distinct culture that can cause problems when military staff are required to see a therapist.

How can the cultural gap that arises in such a situation be bridged?

Maybe you have never heard of the term “cultural competency,” i.e. the understanding, acknowledgement and appreciation of a therapist concerning the differences between his patients and the effects these differences have on the therapy itself.

However, according to Bret A. Moore, mental health professionals are strongly aware of the phenomenon. In his article on the Air Force Times, he sheds a little more light on how to increase cultural competency.

According to Moore, cultural competency often encompasses characteristics such as race, religion and geographical factors. In addition, he says, Clinicians involved in treating military staff have recently stated that the military also has to be regarded as a culture in itself. This can influence psychotherapy for people in the military. Moore believes that gaps in the cultural understanding between a therapist and his client can not only lead to frustration and confusion, but might affect the progress of the therapy as well. In fact, he says, these gaps can even result in the patient ending the therapy sessions early. Thus, he thinks that stating the most common gaps in cultural competency will lead to better treatments.

Firstly, Moore states that the most important difference between military and non-military civilians is language. Military speech is filled with acronyms and slang and can be adapted in a heartbeat in order to communicate information as efficiently as possible. However, Moore says, this jargon can lead to miscommunication and frustration during therapy sessions . To illustrate the degree in which military language differs from regular speech he gives the following example:

"I recently ETS’d from Fort Hood after six years as an NCO, where I worked in the S2 shop. Now, all I seem to be doing is working as an RTO or watching troops PMCS’ing vehicles all day. Hell, I was trained as an 11 Bravo. And wouldn’t you know it, DFAS screwed up my partial DITY and I still haven’t gotten paid since I in-processed."

Next to language, military staff are often solution- instead of problem-focused, Moore says. As therapists often focus on the past and the subconsciousness, Moore believes the standard question “How does that make you feel?” can severely get on the nerves of a solution-oriented patient. In addition to this, Moore thinks the military focuses more on “the group” than regular society does. In fact, he says, individuality and independence are seen as a possible threat to the cohesiveness and morale of a military unit. Therapists must also keep this in mind when treating a patient from the military.

In conclusion, Moore advises military staff that when they believe cultural differences between their milieu and that of their therapist are in the way of their therapy, they should address this to their therapist as soon as possible. After all, this will save them and their clinician not only time, but frustration as well.

Do you work internationally or cross-culturally? Check out our international business skills training courses which all cover cultural competency to a certain degree.

Accounting & Finance Skills
Our Emotional Intelligence Training Course

Related Posts

Comments

 
No comments yet