Cultural Consultation to Child Protection Services and Legal Settings

Lashley, M.; Hassa, G.; Maita, B. (2013)

Cultural Consultation: Encountering the Other in Mental Health Care. L. Kirmayer, C. Rousseau & J. Guzder (Eds.)

Springer | 269-290

Services that are designed by, and for, the host society majority group may be inadequate or inappropriate for ethnic minority or immigrant families. These issues are relevant to cultural consultants who are asked to provide advice to a variety of social service and institutional settings, including youth protection as well as legal and family services. Those who work within these agencies must be assisted to understand the difficulties encountered by migrant families during the process of resettlement, including separation and reunification, cultural variations in discipline and physical punishment, and the important roles of identity and intergenerational conflicts as well as distinguishing between situations of dysnormativity and dysfunctionality. Given that intimate partner violence is one of the challenges that institutional agencies face when assisting families, it is imperative that staff members be provided with the training necessary to adequately assist families confronted by these difficulties. The enormous power vested in these institutions and their representatives must also be considered when creating training strategies to assist workers. Finally, special attention must also be given to the challenges of migration and resettlement which can result in the destabilization of families, interrupt the transmission of traditional values from parents to children, diminish parental authority, and lead to the break-down of family structures which could result in the inappropriate removal of children from the parental home. Case vignettes and examples training programmes are used to demonstrate how cultural consultants can assist in the development of culturally safe spaces for families interacting with societal institutions.