All About Cultural Contexts and the Profound Effects They Can Have on Our Worldview and Mental Wellness

Eastern Cultural Contexts - Pagoda in Bhutan

What are Cultural Contexts?

Cultural contexts are the diverse settings in which we live our lives.

There are many different cultural contexts throughout the World with each having their own unique way of living and making sense of the reality that surounds them.

Although it is obvious that we all exist within the same reality, the fact is that different cultures make sense of and experience this reality in very different ways.

It is argued that the most significant factors affecting our experience of reality are the cultural settings in which we grow-up and live.

Many of us (including myself) live in a Westernised cultural setting including countries and regions such as Europe, America and Australia.

However, many more people live in the Eastern cultural settings that are associated with countries and regions such as Asia, India, Japan and so on.

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Eastern & Western Cultural Contexts

The scientific literature argues that cultures exert a powerful influence on psychological well-being, specifically in those cultures which promote individualism and materialism.

Individualism places the individual self at the centre of the social system so that the quality of life is determined by one’s own actions, choices and decisions.

It emphasises personal achievement (for example wealth and property) over the achievement of society as a whole and is personified by the well-known phrase ‘dog-eat-dog’ in which it is assumed that everybody else is trying to climb the ladder of success in a type of ‘social competition’.

Materialism emphasises the importance of money and possessions so that the more money one has, the more possessions may be purchased and, theoretically, the more satisfied one can become as a result.

Eastern cultures, such as that found in Japan, have a fundamentally different understanding of the social fabric than western counterparts.

Whereas we might seek to gain independence for ourselves (individualism and autonomy) Japanese people seek out collectivism and inter-dependence in and between its citizens.

Cultural Contexts and Mental Health

Researchers looking into the cross-cultural prevalence of mental health problems estimate that the likelihood of experiencing anxiety over a lifetime for people living in westernised countries is 30% whilst for those living in eastern cultural countries, it is just 5% whilst the likelihood of suffering major depression is estimated at 20% and just 2% respectively.


One of the main ideas put forward to explain these (rather significant) differences in prevalence rates is because of the way that the ‘self’ is modelled within these two cultural settings, what we now know as the ‘independent self’ (West) and the ‘inter-dependent self’ (East).

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If you’d like to find out more about cultural contexts or recovering from any of your mental health problems then why not arrange a free initial consultation with us.

During this consultation we will discuss your particular issues and the different types of mental health counselling we offer (including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy – CBT) without you having to commit to any counselling going forward.

The consultation lasts around 50 minutes and is a great opportunity to meet with either Paul or Joan and decide if you would like to proceed with any support.


Applied Psychology Solutions

If you’d like to learn how to overcome your mental health problems but dislike the idea of having “therapy”, then why not learn how to change the way you make sense of your experiences and the World around you with the CORE Programme.

If you believe that your problems are the result of what has happened to you and not because there is something wrong with you, then this is the solution you’ve been looking for.

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We offer Therapy and Counselling for Mental Health Problems for people living in:

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You can also access our services around the World using online therapy with Paul.