About Cultural Formulation Essay

Individuals are educated about their country by consistently instilling moral and intellectual virtues in them, a process called as cultural formation.

Individuals are exposed to specific values, ideas, and behavior when they are born, which instructs and trains them through time until they fully acquire the standards of their culture (Mezzich & Caracci, 2008). Individuals are said to be cultured when they have thoroughly absorbed into a given faith. Culture influences how people react to circumstances, how they seek and respond to counseling, and how they live their lives in general (Mezzich & Caracci, Cultural Formulation Guidelines, 2009). Cultural formulation may make individuals face challenges in some areas of their lives as they try to adjust to different situations in life.

Elements of a Cultural Formulation

Cultural Identity

Adisa identifies himself as a black person who has high interest in the lives of other African people. During the interview, Thomas feels that Adisa doesn’t know much about him which may affect his ability to share personal information with him. When he asks Adisa to ask anything he would like to know about Thomas, Adisa begins by seeking to understand whether Thomas views himself as being black or male. The focus on race indicates that Adisa has identified himself more strongly as being an African-American as opposed to being a man and that is why he seeks to understand Thomas’ opinion on the same matter. Moreover, when Thomas enquires of the people whom Adisa looks up to, he only identifies African-American heroes such as Malcolm X, W.E.B Dubois, his grandmother and Soldier amongst first. The main reason he looks up to them is because they are Black people who succeeded during tough times and not because they are individuals who have accomplished their purpose in life. As such, it is clear that he has defined himself as a black person.

Acculturative Stress

Adisa feels that being an African-American individual is the main reason he is facing challenges fitting in graduate school. Although he has qualified, Adisa thinks like he doesn’t belong in graduate school since he is African-American. The experiences he has related with from his culture have given him a mentality while he feels that he does not deserve the beautiful things of life. As such, Thomas explains to him that the problems African-American people go through such as racism and discrimination are not self-circumstance. They are problems that have formed a lousy mentality in the minds of African-American people making them feel fail to achieve their purpose in life. Thomas sees that liberating the African. The dominant cultural beliefs in Adisa have made him face some psychosocial difficulties which make him feel unfit, and they may be demonstrated as isolation from friends, loneliness, skipping classes and experience problems in forming and maintaining relationships with other people.

Cultural Explanation

Adisa believes that the difficulties he is facing are caused by his African American descent. The people he looks upon like Malcolm, Ida, and Dubois, are black people who prospered when racial discrimination was very prevalent in the United States. The African American people were being subjected to low-quality life such as primary education, low paying jobs, and poor living conditions. As such, the African American people could not access college education which is one of the reasons Adisa feels that he does not fit at such a level. Moreover, during the interview Thomas notes that there is a strong emotional response when Adisa talks about graduate school. Thomas indicates that Adisa is just as collective as other African American people who do not freely share their experiences. As such, it is clear that Adisa believes that his issues are caused by his culture. Adisa thinks that if he belonged to a different culture such as the Whites, he would fit more in graduate school and experience less psychosocial difficulties.

Culture vs. Personality

Adisa’s culture makes him fearful as he feels that he doesn’t fit in graduate school. He is also very reserved when Thomas enquires about some of the reasons why he thinks that he should not belong in that level of education. When Thomas makes some opinions on why Adisa could be anxious about graduate school, he only responds in low tones with minimal comments such as 'hmm.' In fact, Thomas notes that there so much tension on Adisa’s face every time he talks about his anxiety for graduate school. Adisa’s culture has made him fearful and collective which seems to contradict his personality. During the interview, Thomas stops focusing on the anxiety that Adisa is experiencing for a while when he begins to ask him about the people he looks up to in life. Adisa becomes very outspoken, especially when he talks about his grandmother. Adisa also appears very lively when he shares some of the reasons why he looks up to them with Thomas. The way Adisa talks about his heroes’ shows that he is a visionary, confident and outspoken person. As such, there is the need for mind liberation just like Thomas tells him.

Culturally Sensitive Treatment

Adisa needs to connect with African American individuals in his generation who have gone to graduate school and succeeded. He needs to hear their stories and even share their experiences primarily on how they handle challenges that come along the way due to cultural differences. The individuals with whom Adisa connects with will form his healing circle (American Psychological Association, 2003). The use of this healing circle is advantageous for Adisa because they are people whom he can connect with easily, unlike the heroes he admires. Adisa can quickly reach out to these individuals when he feels the need to talk to somebody.

The involvement of his parents is also another culturally sensitive treatment that would work for Adisa (Sue, 2012). Adisa accepts that his parents make a lot of sacrifices for him to be in graduate school. Moreover, they are very proud because he is the first one in his family to attend graduate school. Therefore, he should involve them by sharing with them some of his experiences in graduate school. If Adisa included his parents, they would help him understand that it is a great achievement for him to make it to graduate school. The involvement of his parents will help him share his experiences with people he believes understand his cultural background (Boyd-Franklin, 2010).


Adisa is an individual with a lot of potentials to succeed in graduate school. He is also a visionary person as demonstrated in the interview when he mentions his role models and states his goals. Adisa only needs to receive treatment especially through relating with other African American students who will help form a healing circle for him. Moreover, the involvement of his family will keep him focused and make him more inspired to keep working hard in graduate school for the sake of his family and community.


American Psychological Association. (2003, November). Psychological Treatment of Ethnic Minority Populations. Retrieved from www.apa.org: https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/brochures/treatment-minority.pdf

Boyd-Franklin, N. (2010). Incorporating Spirituality and Religion into the Treatment of African American Clients. The Counselling Psychologists, 38(7), 976-1000.

Mezzich, J., & Caracci, G. (2008). Cultural Formulation: A Reader for Psychiatric Diagnosis. Lanham: Jason Aronson.

Mezzich, J., & Caracci, G. (2009). Cultural Formulation Guidelines. Transcultural Psychiatry, 46(3), 23-36.

Sue, D. (2012). Counselling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.

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