‘Culturally Sensitive Social Work Practice with Arab Clients in Mental Health Settings’

Note that this was written just before 9/11. Against all sense and sanity we have become much more politically correct and also imported a lot more Muslims and Arabs since then. I’ll add that I have a low opinion of social work, whatever that even is, really. But think about how scrupulously non-judgmental, left wing and oleaginously Western-loathing the people who wrote this almost certainly are, and then consider what a critic would have written. Excerpts picked almost at random (I really recommend at least skimming the whole thing. It’s fascinating):

Mental health services can be stigmatizing, particularly for women… The stigma of mental health services could damage their marital prospects, increase the likelihood of separation or divorce, or, especially among Muslims, be used by a husband or his family as leverage for obtaining a second wife (i.e. bigamy. In the West that’s a crime, yo. – Ed.)

…Cultural expectations regarding gender can complicate the helping relationship. Arab men may have difficulty accepting a female social worker’s directions. Of Iranian families (Not Arabs, the Iranians – Ed.) , Jalali (1982) wrote “the patriarchal organization of the family is to be acknowledged by addressing fathers first and as the head of the family. The social worker should not attempt to change cultural power hierarchies or role patterns since this will alienate the family” (What if “the family” is the problem? Nothing, feminists? Nothing? – Ed.) …. An opposite-gender client relationship is complicated and may be impractical (Isn’t that misogynist discrimination? – Ed). But even when a positive connection is established and the client settles into the professional helping process, he or she might soon open up and get attached, which leads to conflict or confusion. Every attempt should be made to educate the client about the appropriateness of the attachment, and reassurance should be offered that the relationship is protected by professional standards. Likewise, a female-male social worker-client dyad is best responded to with such culturally appropriate techniques as referring to the client as “my sister,” (Maybe if she breastfed him? – Ed.) maintaining minimal eye contact and appropriate physical distances between client and worker, and integrating the family in many, if not all, stages of treatment (Al-Krenawi, 1996) (i.e. “no, your social worker is not a state-funded prostitute, Ahmed. Really, she isn’t. Even if your uncle says she must be.” – Ed) … For the Arab client it is very difficult to accept the formal distance between worker and client that is the norm in modern helping situations, and it may be that the worker will have to bend principles. (Because God forbid the immigrants should be accommodating enough to “bend principles”. That’s our job – Ed.) For the ethnic Arab, it is more important to build a relationship than to solve a problem. (Isn’t that nice? What warm people they must be. So much more vibrant, caring and relationship-oriented than we are. By the way, this is why Nothing Gets Accomplished in the Arab world. Because unless you’ve bribed and/or are related to the guy at the Riyadh DMV he doesn’t have a “personal relationship” with you and doesn’t care that you exist. – Ed.)

…As explained by Kulwicki (1996), “Arab-American clients often expect doctors to make medical decisions without the need for the collection of a medical history and without consultation with the client. In cases where clients are asked to participate in decision making about their medical regimen, they may lose trust in the medical experts and discontinue treatment (i.e. they think they’re consulting witch-doctors – Ed.)”  (p. 201)

…Differences in temporal perceptions can produce challenges in working with ethnic Arab families. In a clinical or hospital setting in particular, families may have difficulty with limited visiting hours, which may have to be extended. (Yes, by all means, show up for am 11:30AM appointment at 7:00PM, two hours after the office has closed. We’ll keep staff on hand. Clocks are hard. We revere your culture. – Ed.) Ethnic Arab peoples, as a result, may not be very time bound. In Arabic languages, there are no clear distinctions among various forms of past and future (Is that true? Wierd. – Ed.)

I actually stopped doing extracts about half way through. Rhetorical question: Why would we want people from this weird, alien, primitive and frankly nasty culture immigrating here!?! Why!!??!!