Not professional enough to be a therapist: international therapists’ experience of language discrimination

Abstract

International therapists’ languages have been viewed as a barrier in conducting therapy. Our study utilized language subordination process as a framework to examine the experiences of eight international Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) students facing language and cultural bias from clients. Our findings suggest that language proficiency affects the communication process, and other factors (e.g., ethnicity) are also important. Therapists who speak English as a second language (ESL) experience language discrimination through judgements of their professionalism, competence, and credibility. When facing language discrimination, ESL therapists often experience self-doubt, which affects their counseling efficacy. ESL therapists use their language and culture as strengths and supervision to cope.

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Correspondence to Emel Genç.

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Peng, Y., Genç, E., Nicholson, B. et al. Not professional enough to be a therapist: international therapists’ experience of language discrimination. Curr Psychol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00848-4

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Keywords

  • International therapist
  • English as a second language
  • Language discrimination
  • Supervision