Is your experience of growing up in Britain affected by differences between you and your parents’ cultural or ethnic origin? Maybe you had a multicultural upbringing, have dual or multiple heritages or were raised in a multi-ethnic family.
If your life experience is not reflected in the world around you, or acknowledged in a realistic, compassionate or positive way, it might not support you in your personal growth. Where would you turn if you wanted professional counselling or coaching and had fears about breaches of privacy, lack of understanding of social inequalities, community gossip, personal judgements, inappropriate religious or cultural guidance, or worse?
Many times I have heard people say they really want to use coaching or therapeutic support but they are reluctant to engage with the services on offer. There is a strong wish to consult with a professional outside of the home or community – and with whom they can also identify. Qualified psychotherapists from ethnic minority backgrounds only make up a small percentage of the therapeutic population, and limited choices can make some people talk themselves out of getting the help they need.
Postponing or delaying your decision in the hope of finding a professional that is an exact fit for your life experience can cause later problems. At first, tensions may be temporarily averted by natural life changes, such as leaving the family home to go to university or college, new adult relationships, getting married, having children, starting work, or by meeting others from diverse backgrounds. While this may initially provide (an often healthy) diversion, give a sense of connection, and perhaps of freedom from unwanted cultural or religious restrictions, many people experience further problems.
Positive and personally enriching changes may be difficult to integrate with feelings such as loss, anger, sadness, fear, or low self-worth that originated while still developing psychologically in childhood. The emotional energy spent on trying to manage these internal conflicts can stop us from really growing into our best selves. Difficulties may become apparent through interactions with work colleagues, or affect personal lives. We can end up being less resilient when major life transitions occur in adulthood, such as ending significant relationships, losing a job/income, becoming a parent, moving home, experiencing a bereavement, physical ill health, or reaching a significant age milestone. Many people need a bit of extra support during these times, and this could be intensified by earlier difficulties that may at first seem unrelated.