International Educator - November/December 2014 - 16

China is a collectivist society valuing
family ties and relationships, while Western
cultures are much more individualistic.
"Communication in China is much more
indirect-you don't want anyone to lose face;
there is a lot of reading between the lines,"
Epstein explains.
Clio Le Zheng is a recent graduate of Epstein's Couple
and Family Therapy Program at the University of Maryland, and although she is choosing to stay in the United
States for now, she hopes there will one day be good work
opportunities in China. Beijing Normal University has a
growing family therapy clinic even though Le Zheng said
16  

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR N O V + D E C .14

"Be sensitive to people's
communication styles. Meet
people where they are. I
listen more to get a sense of
the culture of a family. Every
family has its own personal
culture and traditions."
mental health counseling is not covered by insurance and
still carries a stigma. "People who seek counseling might
be viewed as being crazy because it is confused with psychiatric treatment."
Epstein emphasizes the importance of having a good
contact in the collaborating country to guarantee a good
experience for students, and in the case of China, to arrange visits to mental health centers. He also noted the
small challenge of participating in conferences overseas:
he had to send his PowerPoint presentation early so it
could be translated and he had to allow time for simultaneous translation during the sessions.

Spirituality and Counseling
Another serendipitous meeting coupled with a growing
interest in spirituality led to a graduate elective at the
University of Wisconsin (UW) Oshkosh called "Counseling, Culture, and Spirituality in India." UW-Madison
has offered an undergraduate study abroad program
in Vernase, India, since 1961. In 2009 associate professor Charles Lindsey in the Department of Professional
Counseling at UW-Oshkosh was invited to come along.

SHUTTERSTOCK/ THINKSTOCK

he taught a study abroad course
to U.S. and Chinese graduate
students on cross-cultural applications of couple and family
therapy models. China is a collectivist society valuing family ties
and relationships, while Western
cultures are much more individualistic. "We like to talk about
everything, get our feelings on the
table," Epstein explains. "Communication in China is much more
indirect-you don't want anyone
to lose face; there is a lot of reading between the lines. So you don't
say 'no,' you just don't do what has been asked." The adaptation? Go more slowly, be respectful, gradually form a
trusting relationship, honor the family hierarchy. Couples
therapy itself is still new in China. "A couple will say their
child has problems, and we carefully try to get them to talk
about the dynamics of their own relationship. We talk to
them as two parents, not as a couple."
How does all this benefit the U.S. graduate students?
Not only have U.S. and Chinese students developed
lasting friendships, "they learn a tremendous amount
about cultural diversity," says Epstein. "We teach cultural
sensitivity but this is firsthand experience. Be sensitive
to people's communication styles. Meet people where
they are." Epstein says even his own therapy practice has
changed because of his experiences in China. "I listen
more to get a sense of the culture of a family. Every family
has its own personal culture and traditions."



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - November/December 2014

International Educator - November/December 2014 - Cover1
International Educator - November/December 2014 - Cover2
International Educator - November/December 2014 - 1
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International Educator - November/December 2014 - Cover3
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International Educator - November/December 2014 - SCover1
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International Educator - November/December 2014 - S1
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International Educator - November/December 2014 - SCover3
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