NYU Steinhardt will partner with NYU Sydney to create a new curricular pathway for undergraduates in the Department of Applied Psychology, expanding options for studying abroad as an embedded part of the major. Academic pathways are designed by the faculty to deepen knowledge in the major while exposing students to new cultural learning, and this new option complements a current pathway in Buenos Aires. Beginning in Fall 2016, Applied Psychology students will be able to take a new course, Introduction to Multicultural Counseling and Mental Health, in which students will learn effective strategies for navigating cross-cultural relationships and examine the ways culture and context shape counselor and client identities.
“Studies show that doctors can prescribe inadequate medication and psychologists can make things worse if they are providing services to those from a different cultural background without a good understanding of their cultural beliefs,” said Suraj Samtani, a clinical psychologist and NYU Sydney lecturer who will teach the course. “An understanding of multicultural issues,” he added, “allows for the provision of a more professional and beneficial service to patients or clients.”
“Nearly 250 languages are spoken in Sydney, making it a melting pot for cultures from around the world,” according to Samtani. Therefore, “Sydney is an interesting place to study multicultural counselling because of its link with Aboriginal/Indigenous Australian culture, its cultural diversity, and because it is a settling point for refugees from various parts of the world. The multicultural counselling course at NYU Sydney will provide an exciting hands-on experience with field trips, guest lectures from counsellors, actual therapy videos, and role plays. It will provide students with the opportunity to practice using counselling techniques in class and to learn from a practicing psychologist.” Dr. Samtani’s research interests include the study of rumination and worry; and the development of assessment and treatment across psychological disorders. In addition to Introduction to Multicultural Counseling and Mental Health, he has taught Cognition and Child and Adolescent Brain Development at NYU Sydney, as well as courses at the University of New South Wales.