Over 20% of the Canadian population is born outside of the country. This means that Canada is home to a diverse group of people, each of whom have their own set of cultural backgrounds and languages. For newcomers, language isn’t the only obstacle to overcome in a new place. Many are met with feelings of isolation, loneliness, and other mental health concerns. In such cases, language and barriers in cultural understanding prevent people reaching out for help.

Numerous studies have shown that a shared cultural understanding is essential to building an effective therapist-client relationship. To explore this further, we spoke to Nadia Prando, one of our PsyMood therapists.

This is what she had to say:

What are the impacts offering therapy to patients in their first language?

“In my experience offering therapy in the patients first language is extremely important to make them feel comfortable. If we think about the fact that we express our emotions better in our first language, most people worry that they won’t be able to express themselves in a language they are not fluent at.”

What are some of the benefits of sharing a cultural background with the patient?

“Sharing the same background of your patient makes it easier to empathize and understand their concerns, difficulties and how they feel pressured.”

How do language and cultural similarities impact the patient’s treatment journey?

“Usually patients feel more comfortable and understood by a therapist from the same background. This helps the process because the patient will be willing to share more of their concerns easily and comply with the demands from therapy.”

However, it can be difficult for newcomers to overcome the stigma and anxiety of reaching out for help. This is where PsyMood comes in. PsyMood will connect patients to mental health specialists that share their cultural background, and can help them in their first-spoken language. At the end of the day, we all want to just talk to someone who understands us.

Nadia Prando is an adolescent, adult, family and couple’s therapist.

Ms. Prando completed her M.A. in clinical Psychology at the Pontifical University Catholic of São Paulo in Brazil. She has extensive training in parent-infant attachment and pregnancy related mental health and well-being. She has worked in hospital settings, for non-governmental organizations and in private practice.

She provides services in English and Portuguese.