Exploring how African employees access workplace counselling in South Africa.
This study explores the role that traditional beliefs and practices play in influencing African clients‟ decisions towards accessing mainstream Western counselling, and determines how these beliefs and practises manifest in a counselling relationship. It also explores how Western based counselling manages these concerns. Despite the increased attention that multicultural counselling and indigenous healing modalities have received in the international literature over the past decades, this research area is still considered to be in its infancy in South Africa. Effectively counselling cultural minority clients remains a controversial issue worldwide. Until recently, there have been indications that mainstream available counselling services in South Africa have been described as irrelevant to the needs of the majority of African clients in this country and forms the subject of this study. This study researched the views of a few groups of African workers, residing in the KwaZulu-Natal province to explore their counselling help seeking behaviours. The study used qualitative methodology, specifically an exploratory design conducting four focus groups. The first focus group constituted the pilot study and informed changes to the data collection process. The findings indicated that the African worldview, entrenched in deep cultural values and beliefs, played a pivotal role in defining and labelling the social problems of African clients. There was a clear distinction between the way counselling was managed from a Western perspective (talking therapy) and that of traditional methods (ritualistic, spiritual, ancestral). Prejudices and ignorance of traditional forms of healing created mistrust and miscommunication between Western counsellors and African clients. To counteract these biases, the recommendations of this study suggest that South African counsellors need to work in a counselling modality that makes provision for recognizing and appreciating a client‟s cultural identity and worldview, with specific recommendations thereof featuring in the final chapter of this report.