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DVD Cultural Diversity: Treating the LGBTQ "Coming Out" Conflict
LGBTQ continuing education social worker CEUs

Section 22
The Hologram Model & Cultural Patterns

CEU Question 22 | CE Test | Table of Contents | Homosexuality
Social Worker CEUs, Psychologist CEs, Counselor CEUs, MFT CEUs

The counseling process symbolizes a condensation of the individual's total life experiences, emphasizing some experiences more than others. The counseling situation is a "simulacrum" of the client's life space. This description is timeworn and difficult to analyze, but we have had occasion to turn to technology and to use the hologram principle as a model for the counseling situation. "In a hologram the information in a scene is recorded on a photographic plate in the form of a complex interference, or diffraction, pattern that appears meaningless. When the pattern is illuminated by coherent light, however, the original image is reconstructed. What makes the hologram unique as a storage device is that every element in the original image is distributed over the entire photographic plate" (Pribram, 1969, p. 73). The hologram represents an image that is not intelligible; the original can be obtained only through a reconstruction. This process parallels the process of reconstruction in the interaction between a counselor and the client in the intercultural situation.

There are several characteristics of a hologram which are important for the model of counseling. First, the usual hologram resembles intricate patterns of contour lines on a map. The observer cannot identify the objects it represents from the incomplete holographic image, since there is no photographic similarity between the two. Thus, the principle of similarity, which often functions in both perception and thinking, does not operate to represent the object in the hologram. By analogy there is no reason to find in the counseling situation superficial resemblances to the other life experiences of the client. Second, every aspect of the hologram reproduces the entire image and, inversely, the image spreads over the entire surface of the hologram. We can again draw an analogy with counseling and suggest that any aspect of a counseling session can be enlarged, elaborated, and decoded to yield the basic patterns of life experiences.

The correspondence between a counseling situation and other life experiences of the individual is not one of similarity or of representative-ness. Counseling is a deliberate intervention, analogous to a pattern of interference encoded in the hologram, which serves to bring out in counseling that which is meaningful and to link it to other life experiences of the individual. Interference-a term which seems too strong for counseling-is used in holography. When the interaction in counseling involves cultural differences, cultural concepts can be used to illuminate the process of interaction and its relationship to the life experiences of the student.

The hologram provides an accurate analogy for the "deliberate interaction of counseling." The recorded light patterns of the hologram represent the meaningless reflected light from an object recorded with a reference beam of light from the same source. The image, the hologram, records the interference pattern from the two beams (Leith & Upatnieks, 1965). It does not represent distinctive features of the object. To make sense of the meaningless hologram and to identify the object contained, one needs to flash a coherent light, which in optics is defined as a narrow wave, ideally monochromatic, as provided by laser lights. In counseling we lack the precision of narrow-band laser lights, but we have the developing field of cultural differences in values and thinking that can be used as a coherent light to cast on the interactions and problems of the foreign client.

There is one final point of analogy which is important-the relationship of the hologram to time. The hologram represents light waves stopped in an instant of time. Two light waves are frozen and recorded in their interference patterns. In counseling, time is brief; meaning is concentrated and reconstructed in cultural terms. Identifying the counseling session with the model of a hologram permits us to isolate a brief slice of time and yet accept the client as a person existing in the broader landscape of his cultural existence. The analogy suggests a holographic analysis of what happens in the counseling situation-a reconstruction in relation to other life experiences which clarify the meaning of counseling. The model draws attention to the crucial issue of how the student can be assisted to live and function more effectively out there through the mediation of events in counseling. How does counseling generalize to affect the actions and adjustment out there? An answer to this question requires the drawing of a link between counseling and the life experience of the cultural client.

The holographic model for intercultural counseling provides a perspective on the relationship between a segment of behavior and other aspects of behavior. It also suggests a criterion for success which is reached when counseling attains holographic meaning. The criterion of success, it must be stressed, is inseparable from the model itself, which introduces criteria for choices in counseling that contrast with other principles of explanation. First, the principle of similarity assumes that each individual is in search of immediate behavioral reinforcements. It is difficult for the counselor to generalize from the counseling situation to the life experiences of the client. There is no link other than that found in similarities. Inasmuch as the counseling situation is not the same as other life events, then the two are mutually exclusive and similarities are misleading.

A second principle of explanation is derived from information theory. The central idea is that any item of information about a topic used in communication is meaningfully related to other items from the same domain of total information about that topic. Information selected for communication implies items not selected. Thus, a student coming to the counselor has ruled out going to friends or others for assistance at this time when he states that he has made the decision to come. The two kinds of resource persons, selected and not selected, are inextricably linked. An acceptance of the counselor implies a rejection of the friend. The problem with this view in counseling is that all items of information may be related, but some of the alternatives are less meaningful to the student. Any decision assumes the ability to make alternative choices in the abstract. The information on which any given choice is made refers to events or situations that may not be meaningful to the student. This pattern of thinking uses utility as the criterion of choice. It does not allow for the decision-maker with a past, present, and future. The decision between information selected and not selected is not made exclusive of experience, perception, or values of the student. The atomism of simplistic decisions is artificial. It should be noted that the counseling event is connected to other life experiences of the individual in terms of the potential choices which he or she may make. The client's own experiences or history does not necessarily provide the connecting link.

Turning to the holographic explanation, we consider a fusion of abstract ideas and concrete emotions that occur in a field of past, present, and future relationships. Holography illuminates both counseling and outside events in an aesthetic relationship rather than a logical or statistical one. The psychology of both counselor and client is approached through layers and embeddedness. In addition, this principle of the hologram allows us to look at the individual's cognitive processes, the relationship between the individual and culture, and the connection between cultural influences and the total environment.

The counselor adopts a fixed illumination to perceive the counseling of foreign students as an intercultural experience. This view of counseling does not apply to all counseling situations, since foreign students may have problems that do not require a cultural interpretation. Because counselors should not overreact to cultural differences, the model presented is not intended to cover all counseling situations with foreign students, only those in which the coherent light of culture does provide resolving insight to the student and the counselor.

Leaving theory behind, we find that this model of counseling leads to several practical consequences. First, it focuses attention on counseling as an event in the life experiences of the client and compels the counselor to discard the stereotype of foreigners prevalent in American society. The stereotype might otherwise lead Americans to respond in the same way to a Japanese as to an Arab. The counselor should be aware of his own foreignness in the eyes of the client. Cultural perception influences perception of physical features to the extent that all those who are foreign seem to resemble one another.

Second, the approach places the various methods and beliefs with respect to counseling in a different perspective. The traditional definition of counseling is discarded and we are able to see where role playing, aesthetics, and simulations could be used together with dialogue between the counselor and the client. The hologram model has been used in part to demonstrate the contributions of these other methods, which at times seem merely to enliven counseling techniques but appear in their therapeutic effect more central and significant than the traditional dialogue or psychometric approach. These approaches, as well as any other innovative technique in counseling, should be carefully evaluated, since both the methods and content of counseling convey cultural assumptions.

In leaving the hologram model, we shall proceed to two main effects of using this model in counseling situations. We will first turn to the resistance or interference in the interface between client and counselor and then to culture.
The emphasis in counseling on the analogy of the hologram and the reference to aesthetics leads to a conception of counseling as drama. It is important to stress that the drama is internal; it occurs in the perception, feelings, and emotions of the participants. The relationship between the counselor and the client is transitory and cannot become a permanent aspect of the resolution of the counseling problem. The purpose of the drama is to use counseling to bring about a change in the client. The change and the drama in counseling are internal to the persons involved. For this reason, it will be necessary later on to develop a view of cognitive structures.
- Counseling Across Cultures, Paul Pedersen, Juris Draguns, Walter Lonner, and Joseph Trimble (eds.), The East-West Center: Hawaii, 1981

Personal Reflection Exercise #8
The preceding section contained information about the "Hologram Model" for counseling sessions. Write three case study examples regarding how you might use the content of this section in your practice.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Bettergarcia, J., Matsuno, E., & Conover, K. J. (2021). Training mental health providers in queer-affirming care: A systematic review. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity, 8(3), 365–377.

Nagy, G. A., LeMaire, K. L., Miller, M. L., Bhatt-Mackin, S., & Railey, K. (2020). Training and education to advance multicultural mental health-care delivery (the “TEAM mental health-care delivery model”): A pilot evaluation of outcomes, acceptability, and feasibility. Training and Education in Professional Psychology. Advance online publication.

Powell, H. A., & Cochran, B. N. (2020). Mental health providers’ biases, knowledge, and treatment decision making with gender-minority clients. Psychology of Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity. Advance online publication.

Online Continuing Education QUESTION 22
Identifying the counseling session with the model of a hologram permits the therapist to do what? Record the letter of the correct answer the CE Test.

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