Saudi Arabia: Marriage and Family Therapy – An Opportunity to Participate

family therapy


Stephanie isa graduate student in Marriage and Family Therapy, and writing a paper for a Cultural Diversity course on how therapists can better serve clients of different cultural backgrounds. She has decided to write her paper on patients of Saudi background, and seeks input from American Bedu readers.
This paper will be shared with the rest of her classmates (as their papers will with her) in an effort to make them all better therapists who can help people of many varied backgrounds.  Readers can contact her directly at [email protected] if they would like to email her the answers to these questions.

She is also happy to share the final research paper with American Bedu when it is completed.

Please feel free to skip any of these questions-

What is your Age/Gender/Nationality (Are you American/European of Saudi decent, or a Saudi National? Etc.)


What do you believe is the belief about counseling and mental health in Saudi culture?


What are your personal beliefs about counseling and mental health?


How is mental illness treated/diagnosed institutionally in Saudi Arabia? Is there a stigma, or is help widely available?


How is mental illness percieved/treated within a family structure?  Within a community?


What does the Qur’an have to say about mental illness and how people with mental illness should be treated?


Would people in Saudi Arabia go see a counselor to discuss problems like marital issues or depression?  What about Saudis living in America/Europe? What about second-generation Saudi-Americans?


Would you personally have any reservations about seeing a counselor? If so, what are they? If no, Why not?


If yes, what could a counselor do to reassure you?


What would you look for in a counselor?

-Would the Counselor have to be Muslim? Another Religion?(which?)  Have to be a Man? Have to be a Woman? Have to be knowledgeable about Saudi culture? Something else…?


Would there be any restrictions place on someone of an opposite gender seeing a counselor? What would those restrictions be?  Could/would a married couple go to marriage counseling?


If formal counseling is not/has not been a part of Saudi culture, what structures have taken its place? Where do people go for guidance and mental health? An Imam? Family Members? Other?


How could a non-Saudi counselor in the US help become more culturally aware and sensitive to treat clients of Saudi background living in the US?  What things should the counselor avoid doing/saying? What should the counselor absolutely do? How can the counselor demonstrate their respect for their Saudi clients’ culture?

9 Responses

  1. Many thanks American Bedu for posting this and those who have already sent in answers! Please feel free to answer any of the questions or to leave any reflections about counseling in general in the comments. I welcome any feedback!

  2. Sounds interesting. Would love to have given feedback, except that I’m Indian.:-)

  3. Sounds interesting. Would love to have given feedback, except that I am Indian/Pakistani.
    Qur’An is not a Book of medicines but a book of FAITH. Allah Says Oh People if you believe in Allah and his mesanger and His revelation (QUR’AN) you will never go mad/mental.

  4. Farooq, Sami – go ahead and provide your feedback to Stephanie but just let her know your nationality. If you are expats in the Kingdom, it is equally important for her to receive feedback.

    On Fri, Feb 1, 2013 at 1:49 PM, American Bedu

  5. What Muslims believes that peace of mind can be acquired through submitting their wills to almighty God. Also, I think it does not matter the counselor is from another religion as long as the couple keep their modesty strictly.

  6. Hi, i’ve been looking for a marriage counselor/therapist in Riyadh to help us deal with some domestic issues. If anyone knows any good practitioner here please let me know via email…

  7. I know this post was written a long time ago, but I just stumbled upon it. I would like to know if there is a therapist in Riyadh or an online therapist here in KSA. I would really like to talk to someone about family matters. It might be helpful if he/she had knowledge of Islamic laws/practices as it’s important to me to be able to analyze my situation from an islamic perspective. Thanks.

  8. @ Sami……Allah didnt say that. Pls dont attribute to Allah and His messenger wht they didnt say.

  9. @Sandy ask a sheikh for advice and counseling if you can’t ask someone in the family. The woman is responsible for guarding the home, including the private business of the home life and of her husband. Try reading Sūrat an-Nisā and in sha Allah you can get some answers from it. You could go to a Muslim therapist/counselor who is also familar with Quran and family fiqh. I would never advise asking the mushrikeen for advice on family issues or go to them for counseling because they don’t have eeman or taqwa and can’t understand our problems from an islamic perspective. Remember Allah is the First and we must obey His shariah in everything ,especially in family issues and how we deal with our spouses, children and other relatives. A kaffir can’t grasp this idea.

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