Counseling is a critically important filed that is aimed at the improvement of the quality of life. It presupposes close cooperation with people and improved understanding of their mentalities, value systems, and needs to acquire an enhanced vision of their problems and how they can be resolved. However, the given task may be challenging because of the diversity of individuals and the existence of unique features of their character. For this reason, for a counselor, it is critically important to be able to establish meaningful cooperation with clients belonging to different groups to remain effective and contribute to the improvement of the quality of peoples’ lives. Under these conditions, culture acquires the top priority as the phenomenon that impacts the mentality of clients, their behaviors, needs, cognitive processes, and expectations from the collaboration with a counselor.
The importance of the given aspect is evidenced by its scope. In general, culture can be defined as a set of values, social behaviors, beliefs, and representations peculiar to a certain group of people (Rzhevsky, 2012). This generalized description demonstrates that the term includes the elements that have a strong influence on individuals’ mentalities and their responses for specific triggers or events. In such a way, regarding the tendency towards globalization and diversification of social groups, for specialists working with individuals, it is vital to acquire a clear understanding of culture and how it might shape cooperation. Representatives of different cultural groups might have various responses and problems, that is why a beginning counselor should be ready to consider these peculiarities to attain success and avoid stereotypic or biased images that can be linked to different nations.
Analyzing different value systems, it is possible to focus on Slavic and Russian culture as today its bearers can be met in different countries. Additionally, the choice can be justified by the fact that ethnic Russian people have a long history of achievements in many fields, and they also have a significant impact on world culture. Being the biggest state in the world, Russia includes different territories with their unique traditions and beliefs. These phenomena interact and form a unique mixture of values, approaches, and perspectives that are known as Russian culture. Moreover, it derives from Slavs with their pagan beliefs, which introduced multiple customs vital for this group. Another essential factor that shapes Russian culture is the unique history of the state. Russian Empire had always been one of the most influential players in global politics. With its collapse, the USSR also became another superstate that inherited the unique culture and traditions of Russian people. Finally, today, the state remains a powerful actor at the international level, and this idea strongly influences the culture of the nation.
One of the distinctive features of Russian people and culture is their respect for past achievements. Russians view themselves as the nation of winners due to their defeats of Napoleon and Nazi Germany. In general, the WWII, which is often called the Great Patriotic War in Russia, is now taken as the central event shaping mentalities and culture of Russian people as they sacrificed about 27 million fellow countrymen to resist Germany and save their land from invasion (Rzhevsky, 2012). Today, Victory Day is one of the central holidays in the country, and Russians respect their ancestors. Moreover, it is a fundamental element of culture as famous military traditions and achievements are viewed by representatives of Russian culture as one of the most important aspects of their nation.
Continuing the analysis of the selected culture, it is vital to mention the role of faith in the formation of the Russian worldview and value system. Russian Orthodoxy is the dominant religion in the state, but the majority of believers do not attend church regularly (Rzhevsky, 2012). However, it is respected by all people and is viewed as the symbol of Russian heritage and its unique culture (Rzhevsky, 2012). There are many customs and traditions that emerged under the impact of the church and remain important for people who belong to this culture. For this reason, cooperating with clients belonging to this group, it is vital to consider their spirituality and the unconventional attitude to the Church. In their opinion, it is not necessary to visit it regularly to believe in God, as faith can be found inside a person (Rzhevsky, 2012). For this reason, the majority of Russian people are not zealous believers, but the church still plays a fundamental role in their lives.
Cooperating with representatives of this culture, it is also vital to remember the fact that they have a unique mentality characterized by self-analysis, attempts to find the sense of life, sensory perception of the surrounding world, frankness, compassion, and dominance of social interests over individual ones (Mokrova et al., 2018). The given traits can be viewed as a result of the historical evolution of the country, the influence of religion, ideas of duty, and honor. At the same time, Russian philosophic thought and its classic literature can also be viewed as forces that shaped people’s value systems and described their attempts to cognize the world that surrounds them and answer questions important needed for them to be happy. In such a way, under the impact of these factors, people acquired unique features that became the part of their culture and should be considered while engaging in communication with them.
Another important element of Russian culture is humor. It remains an integral element of conversations and the part of people’s worldview. Individuals belonging to this ethnic group had to overcome multiple hardships to survive and evolve, and humor, as well as sarcasm, has always been viewed as a tool that helps to reduce stress and think positively (Rzhevsky, 2012). Due to the unique peculiarities of mentalities, it differs from the European, and sometimes it might result in the emergence of misunderstandings as jokes are closely connected to phenomena understandable only for Russian people (Das, 2016). For this reason, for a counselor, it is important to consider the fact that humor and sarcasm can serve as protection tools to avoid difficult situations or conversations
Finally, although a good conversation is valued in the given culture, Russian people remain reserved and prefer not to share their personal problems with other individuals, especially not close ones or strangers. This feature stipulates the neutral, or even sometimes negative, attitude to counselors, as representatives of this ethnic group do not accept the idea of sharing their problems with a third person (Sheldon et al., 2017). It can be linked to the history of the state, as in the USSR, counselors were not popular, and the results of this trend can be seen today (Weeks, 2020). In the majority of cases, Russians view the decision to consult with a counselor as a sign of weakness or unnecessary activity that will hardly help them (Weeks, 2020). For this reason, for a beginner counselor, it is vital to consider this aspect of Russian culture and do not consider it as hostility or the lack of desire to cooperate. On the contrary, if a specialist manages to establish friendly and trustful relations, the cooperation will be productive and useful.
In such a way, a beginner counselor might face some difficulties when working with a representative of Russian culture. The combination of patriotic feelings, humor, religion, and sarcasm from one hand, and reserved character from another might deteriorate to cooperation and precondition the lack of trust and understanding. For this reason, it is critically important to consider all the unique features mentioned above and select the approach that will promote relations of trust and mutual respect.
Altogether, culture remains a critically important component of human communication. It impacts the worldview of people, their values, and models that are used to cooperate with other individuals. For this reason, for any counselor, it is critical to possess an improved understanding of their clients’ culture, traditions, and customs to be able to help them. Otherwise, they will employ stereotypic or biased judgments and fail. Russian culture, as a significant part of the world heritage, should also be taken into account by a specialist and studied to enhance his/her skills and be ready to work with clients who belong to this group.
Das, P. D. (2016). Modernization and Russian culture. International Studies, 53(3–4), 305–320.
Mokrova, I. L., Merçon-Vargas, E. A., & Tudge, J. R. H. (2018). Wishes, gratitude, and spending preferences in Russian children. Cross-Cultural Research, 52(1), 102–116.
Rzhevsky, N. (2012). The Cambridge companion to modern Russian culture (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Sheldon, K. M., Titova, L., Gordeeva, T. O., Osin, E. N., Lyubomirsky, S., & Bogomaz, S. (2017). Russians inhibit the expression of happiness to strangers: Testing a display rule model. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, 48(5), 718–733.
Weeks, T. R. (2020). Yuliya Minkova, Making Martyrs: The language of sacrifice in Russian culture from Stalin to Putin. European History Quarterly, 50(1), 171–173.