The Fifth Position

New Publication: 

The Fifth Position: A Guide for Developing Intercultural Resiliency and Pluralism

Have you ever had a client who, because of religion, culture, or life experiences, seemed so different from you that you wondered how you’d ever make a connection? 

Have you ever wondered how you could understand and support the development of resiliency in clients from various cultures and religious traditions?

The Fifth Position: A Guide to Developing Intercultural Resiliency and Pluralism presents to front-line therapists the rational and means to address culture and the controversial topic of religion by becoming more pluralist in their worldviews. The principles of intercultural resiliency are the bridge linking positions of difference typically found when addressing diversity, presented through a series of activities for individual reflection or through workshop format. 

The Fifth Position: A Guide to Developing Intercultural Resiliency and Pluralism outlines the historically sticky relationship between psychology and religion then emphasizes the current changes in the ways culture and religion are becoming acknowledged in therapy by the vast number of psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists, mental health clinicians and other helping professionals. Due to the changing religious landscape across North America and worldwide, front-line therapists are having to address greater diversity within client populations and the community.

While many therapists continue to believe that religion specifically should be excluded from therapy, there is an evolution towards inclusion in both practice and research, including a significant growth in the psychological study of religion. Some of the recent changes also include resolutions made by the APA in 2007 which encouraged psychologists to adopt non-prejudicial or neutral positions when addressing religion or cultural practices in clients, including the prevention of personal bias or belief and the promotion of respectful collaboration between psychologists and religious communities. These resolutions were developed in response to years of research identifying religion as a means of positive coping as well as the ways the specific cultural and religious practices have been used promote human suffering. Yet despite the acknowledgement of growing diversity and the encouragement for more pluralistic practice, most training programs in psychology do not teach ways include religion as a topic in therapy; nor is training provided for many practicing front-line therapists despite the growing multiculturalism in their communities.

Rather than focusing on ways to acknowledge growing multiculturalism or ways to develop cross-cultural communication, the Fifth Position promotes the development of intercultural resiliency. Interculturalism differs through the promotion of mutually reciprocal relationships among and between cultures that allows for relationship building and learning from each other. Interculturalism is defined by respect, equality, understanding, acceptance, and celebration that takes the therapist deeper than multicultural or cross-cultural communication. 

Similarly resiliency is a healing process that allows for creating new meanings to unfortunate life events based on the interaction of developing the self through support and community. The resiliency process interfaces well with interculturalism as all resources are respected and included in the meaning making process.  Interculturalism, resiliency and recognizing cultural and religious diversity guides therapist to becoming pluralistic in practice.

Each chapter in The Fifth Position: A Guide to Developing Intercultural Resiliency and Pluralism discusses an important element in developing pluralism followed by an activity for readers that encourage increased awareness of one’s clinical practice with regard to developing pluralism or intercultural resiliency.

The “Developing Intercultural Resiliency and Pluralism”, has been presented several times since the book’s publication. For more information, see the Workshops page for workshops in your area.