The Advocate Magazine Fall 2021 | Page 19

Recommendations for Couples Therapy With Arab American Clients

Though Arab Americans account for 3.5 million of the United States population , little is known about their mental health . However , we do know that relationships between Arab American couples are significantly influenced by their family of origin , culture , and religion . Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselors ( LCMHCs ) who treat Arab American couples can be helpful to them by anticipating that Arab American couples may view common couples issues — such as infidelity , sex , intimacy problems , commitment issues , and intimate partner violence — differently than clients from other cultures .
Arab cultures place a strong emphasis on family , loyalty , tradition , and community ( or collectivism ); therefore , understanding the complexity of Arab cultures and traditions is fundamental for understanding the population . Arab Americans emphasize family ties and tradition as they relate to maintaining a sense of belonging within the Arab American community .
Arab American couples are influenced by immediate and extended family , elders , significant members of both cultural
Eman Tadros , PhD , LMFT , is an assistant professor and marriage and family counseling track leader at Governors State University in the Division of Psychology and Counseling . She is a licensed marriage and family therapist , MBTI certified , and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor . She is the current Illinois Family TEAM leader advocating for MFTs and individuals receiving systemic mental health services , and her research is centered on incarcerated couples and families .
Abrea Ramadan is a graduate student counselor in training at Governors State University pursuing a master ’ s degree in Marriage , Couple , and Family Counseling . Much of her research interests align with her heritage , culture , and religious beliefs . These include Arab American couples , Arab women health , Muslim youth mental health , and Islamic psychology and counseling . Ramadan plans to continue her education through a doctoral program . and religious communities , and even neighbors . In the Arab and Arab American community , this is commonly referred to as “ What will people say ?” This saying reflects the honor , tradition , and culture that guides the behaviors and actions of Arab American couples .
When Arab American individuals and couples make major life decisions , they must find a balance that satisfies both Arab and American cultural needs . The duality of Arab American couples , in their experiences of both Western and Arab customs , allows them to benefit from stressful events together , as they both acknowledge the value of culture and tradition .
Arab and Arab American communities have endured great amounts of trauma , some as individuals and some as a collectivist trauma — oppression , discrimination , stigmatization , etc . Yet Arab Americans typically underutilize mental health resources . LCMHCs know that one of the most important elements in effective mental health counseling ( not only for Arabs and Arab American clients ) is the importance of the clients feeling seen , heard , and understood . Because many Arab and Arab American couples believe that most Western or non-Arab counselors will not respect or
Marram Salman , NCC , is a counselor in training , and an MA candidate who is expected to finish her master ’ s degree in Counseling ( Marriage , Couples , and Family ) from Governors State University in the spring . She works with individuals , families , and couples with issues that include grief and loss , anxiety , and depression , as well as relationship and self-esteem issues . She has additional experience with art and play therapy , and with the Gottman Method . understand their values and culture , many Arab American couples who are experiencing difficulties simply do not seek professional counseling .
Some barriers and stigmas that deter people from receiving mental health services , such as language or cultural barriers , affect Arab and Arab American individuals as well as couples . Another deterrent is that Arab and Arab Americans may expect that Western therapists will not only not understand and
Continued on page 20 The Advocate Magazine Fall 2021 American Mental Health Counselors Association ( AMHCA ) www . amhca . org