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Acknowledging Cultural Differences

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Summary

Maria is a 24-year old, second-generation Argentinian woman living in Canada who came out as a lesbian last year. Her parents are devout Catholics and opposed to homosexuality, and she feels they have not fully absorbed her sexual orientation—they see it as a “phase”. She feels they are very gradually adjusting, but is concerned that announcing the plan to move in with her partner Lisa would disturb the current peaceful equilibrium in their relationship. Maria is getting pressure from Lisa, but is concerned that moving in would be extremely upsetting to her parents, and she is stuck as to how to go forward. In this clip, Alex is transparent about what he perceives as cultural differences between himself and Maria. Based on the use of the term “culture” introduced in Chapter One, which cultural subgroups does he point to in naming potential differences? Besides raising the perceived differences, how does Alex turn it back to Maria? What impact do you see this exchange potentially having on Maria’s impression of Alex’s openness to her unique experience? What aspects of this practice might you have done similarly/differently? Alex here refers to differences in ethnic cultural backgrounds as well as sexual orientation and gender. Of course it does not go without saying that differences in their participation in these various subgroups will have a bearing on the work with Maria. However, by naming these and inviting Maria to comment, he gives her a chance to register her concerns and is also conveying an openness to discussing perceived cultural differences if she would like at any time to address them.

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