Barriers to counselling experienced by British South Asian women: A thematic analysis exploration

Moller, Naomi; Burgess, Victoria and Jogiyat, Zainab (2016). Barriers to counselling experienced by British South Asian women: A thematic analysis exploration. Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, 16(3) pp. 201–210.



Aim: The objective of this study was to explore the attitudes and beliefs that second generation South Asian women living in Britain hold about counselling, with a particular focus on how these beliefs may impact on the process of help-seeking for psychological distress. Methodology: 82 second generation British South Asian women aged 18-40 (M= 24), the majority of whom (92%) had no experience of counselling, responded to a qualitative survey. The data were analysed with Thematic Analysis. Findings: An over-arching theme of “stereotyping” was identified from the analysis; this theme emerged from the data under four main categories which were best summarised by the following open-ended statements: “White counsellors are…”, “Asian counsellors are…”, “Counselling is…”, and “People with psychological problems are…” Participants identified attitudes and beliefs about counselling, counsellors and psychological distress which revealed widespread generalisations and stereotypes. Some of these views were culturally specific whilst others reflected stereotypes commonly held by the population as a whole, but they all had the potential to act as barriers to help-seeking. Implications: Implications from the study findings are that services should consider how to address stereotypes which may make it harder for South Asian women to seek help from counselling services if they are experiencing psychological distress. This might involve initiatives to address beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that may act as a barrier to help-seeking. In addition, practitioners should understand that their ethnicity and religious identity may have significant meaning for this population.

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