The Patient–Therapist Relationship in Intercultural Psychotherapy

  • Hans Rohlof


The patient–therapist relationship is crucial for the outcome of psychotherapy. This has been shown in research, and it is also a common opinion among psychotherapists. Nowadays, the relationship is not only seen as a process of transference and countertransference, but also in terms of bonding, setting goals and defining tasks.

Intercultural psychotherapy has its own difficulties, since patients and therapists differ more in these processes. Also, there are commonly quite different idioms of distress. A more thorough phase of determining the relationship is necessary, with stages in which both patients as therapists define their role. In different cultures there are quite different perceptions of their role and identity, which can result in misunderstanding and absence of treatment effect.

In order to overcome these difficulties, a proposal is to use the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI), an interview designed for situations in which there is a great gap between the culture of the patient and of the therapist. Next to this core CFI there is a supplementary module, the Patient–Clinician Relationship Module, which can enlarge the relationship because in this interview most of the delicate questions are asked for.


Patient–therapist relationship Transference Countertransference Psycho-diagnostics Treatment effect Cultural Formulation Interview 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans Rohlof
    • 1
  1. 1.Transparant GGZ and private practiceLeidenThe Netherlands

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