Modern life with its increasing international mobility creates the need for transcultural psychotherapy that does justice to the culturally diverse backgrounds of clients. This presupposes an increased awareness of one's own cultural identity as well as a particular sensibility and openness towards cultural differences in expression, body language, attitudes, expectations etc.
The differences attributable to religion or tradition are important, but easier to perceive than the subtler ones.
The influence of cultural norms on our perception in daily life may be exemplified by the common observation that jokes are often only perceived as funny by people of the same cultural background.
A particular tone of voice or manner of speaking may be considered as pleasant and well suited by speakers of one culture, but as exaggerated, rough or impolite by out-groups.
Topics that are freely discussed in some cultural communities are taboos for others.
Generally accepted behaviour in one's own culture may give cause to irritation in another. An example for this are the different American and European table manners. Such cultural differences may cause misunderstandings in all kinds of situations, thereby giving rise to problems and suffering.
Specific settings in which such problems are likely to arise are life abroad with all its needs for adaptations, the workplace and not least intercultural families and mariages.
All of these problems are topics for transcultural psychotherapy, where the therapist's sensitive perception and transcultural experience are needed to inform about cultural differences and help to overcome misunderstandings and to build bridges between different cultures.