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Case of Maria

A Cross-Cultural Study of the Therapeutic Relationship


Stephanie L. Brooke
Psychology Department
University of Phoenix
Janet Morahan-Martin
Department of Applied Psychology
Bryant University


This case illustrates concepts of assessment, diagnosis, and treatment within the context of a counseling relationship. Its primary purpose is to teach students about the dynamics of the therapeutic relationship, specifically that the relationship is one based on power. The case also covers depression, the diagnosis of psychological disorders, cross cultural issues in counseling, and treatment planning. It could be used in either an introductory psychology course or at a more advanced level such as in an upper-level abnormal psychology course.


  • To understand the process of diagnosis.
  • To conceptualize the process of setting treatment goals.
  • To appreciate that various etiological approaches can be taken to explain depression.
  • To discuss how the specific etiological approach of a therapist affects treatment goals and methods.
  • To emphasize the importance of a client’s culture and the impact of cultural communication styles and beliefs.
  • To conceptualize the impact of the power dynamics between the therapist and client.


Therapy; therapeutic relationship; counseling; mental health; depression; Latino; Latina

Topical Areas

Social issues

Educational Level

Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division, Graduate, Professional (degree program), Continuing education



Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Psychology  |   Sociology  |  

Date Posted


Teaching Notes

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