Leone Centre Glossary

Cultural Competence in Family Therapy

Cultural Competence

Cultural competence in family therapy refers to the ability of therapists to understand, appreciate, and interact with individuals from cultures different from their own. It involves being aware of one’s own cultural worldview, gaining knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews, and developing cross-cultural skills.

Understanding cultural competence

Cultural competence is essential in family therapy as it helps therapists to provide more inclusive and respectful support. It encompasses an awareness of cultural differences, including values, traditions, and communication styles, which can significantly impact family dynamics and therapeutic outcomes.

Importance in family therapy

Family therapists with cultural competence can better understand the diverse backgrounds and experiences of their clients. This understanding can help in creating a safe and welcoming environment where all family members feel valued and respected. It also aids in identifying and addressing potential cultural barriers that may affect the therapeutic process.

How it is applied

Therapists apply cultural competence by actively seeking to understand their clients’ cultural backgrounds and integrating this understanding into their therapeutic approach. This can involve continuous education on cultural issues, self-reflection on personal biases, and adapting communication styles to suit the cultural context of the family being supported. Building a strong therapeutic alliance with culturally diverse families is important for the success of therapy.

Benefits of cultural competence

Incorporating cultural competence into family therapy offers numerous benefits, including enhanced communication, increased trust, and more productive engagement with all family members. It ensures that the therapy provided is respectful of cultural differences and responsive to the unique needs of each family, ultimately providing a more inclusive and supportive therapeutic environment.


Why is cultural competence important in family therapy?

Cultural competence is important because it allows therapists to understand and respect the diverse backgrounds of their clients, creating a more inclusive and supportive therapeutic environment.

How can therapists develop cultural competence?

Therapists can develop cultural competence through continuous education, self-reflection on personal biases, and by seeking to understand and integrate the cultural backgrounds of their clients into their practice.

What are the benefits of cultural competence in family therapy?

The benefits include enhanced communication, increased trust, and a more inclusive and supportive therapeutic environment that respects and values cultural differences.


  1. National Center for Cultural Competence. (n.d.). National Center for Cultural Competence.
  2. Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2012). Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice (6th ed.). John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Hardy, K. V., & Laszloffy, T. A. (1995). The Cultural Genogram: Key to Training Culturally Competent Family Therapists. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 21(3), 227-237.
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision