Maintaining Cultural Sensitivity in Residential Treatment

cultural sensitivity in residential treatmentCultural identity impacts the way in which an individual perceives the world around him or her. It shapes a person’s belief system, provides a sense of belonging, and influences the way he or she lives, speaks, acts, and thinks. As such, the behavioral health industry must not only recognize cultural differences and barriers, but also accommodate clients’ values and beliefs in order to provide quality care.

Care That’s Personal

At Sierra Tucson, we are committed to providing personalized assessments, treatment, and continuing care. We treat those under our care with utmost respect, and respond to their individual needs and preferences. Our resident-centered approach includes staff with heightened cultural sensitivity, which allows them to understand resident values and their pathology, as well as help guide clinical decisions. Implementing therapies that are integrative and evidence-based, while supporting cross-cultural practices and beliefs, results in truly individualized treatment and long-term recovery.

“Who we are and where we come from play a key role in how we view treatment and recovery,” says Rachel Pill, LCSW, cultural sensitivity liaison at Acadia Healthcare. (Sierra Tucson is part of the Acadia Healthcare family.) Pill, along with Acadia Treatment Placement Specialist Jane Davis, developed a Cultural Sensitivity Program (CSP) to train multidisciplinary staff, both clinical and non-clinical. “When we provide culturally sensitive services, we give clients an opportunity to stay connected to families and their communities, while also being true to themselves. This creates a positive framework for healing and recovery,” she adds.

Supportive Staff

Cultural sensitivity is about more than programs and services. It’s about personal relationships built on trust. Pill offers trainings for Sierra Tucson staff members to ensure they have the appropriate skills to meet cultural needs. “Training includes experiential cultural-identity exercises, understanding pathology versus religion, an overview on Judaism with a focus on the Orthodox community (our pilot community), and recognizing the role of family and community in a client’s treatment,” she says. While the multidisciplinary team of professionals at Sierra Tucson is available to provide services for all religions, ethnicities, and genders, its primary CSP training is geared toward the Jewish community.

From dietary modifications, to spiritual and religious practices, to traditions and customs, Sierra Tucson respects a resident’s culture by maintaining awareness. Support services provided by the Cultural Sensitivity Program are available to help establish a rapport between staff members, residents, and families, and to help individuals feel safe the moment they walk through the doors.

Cultural Integrity

Integrity is an important virtue that Sierra Tucson strives to uphold each day. Thus, maintaining cultural integrity for our residents is equally important. “When a treatment facility is culturally aware, it can strengthen a client’s ties to his or her support system and change the trajectory of a family forever,” Pill says. Sierra Tucson’s goal is to provide residents with the best possible treatment experience as they begin their journey toward lifelong recovery. Pill adds, “The idea behind CSP is to educate treatment providers and professionals about the need for cultural sensitivity, and to employ diversity training and practices throughout the behavioral health industry.”


Read an article from Arutz Sheva featuring Sierra Tucson Chief Medical Officer Michael Genovese, MD, JD, on treating trauma of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community.