Similar to most psychological frameworks, the creation of the DIFT framework has a backstory. In 2015, I presented a theory review at the annual Canadian Psychological Association convention where I shared parts of the chapter on multicultural counselling from my forthcoming book.
At the time, the DIFT framework consisted of four main theoretical perspectives: psychoanalytic, narrative, multicultural counselling, and cognitive behavioral. During my presentation, I discussed the evolution of my framework and its importance within the therapeutic world. Although it was well received, I recognized more could be conveyed on effective therapeutic techniques specifically for multicultural populations.
On the last day of the convention, Dr. Sue Johnson, co-creator of the EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) held a workshop on effective couples counselling. Her presentation was not only powerful but equally inspiring. After meeting Dr. Johnson and thanking her for the influence her work has had in my practice, I decided to further elaborate upon my framework by including a potential fifth component, Buddhist psychology. Essentially, this is how the Diversity and Identity Formation Therapy (DIFT) framework was developed.
Commemorating the one-year anniversary of the publication my book, Exploring Immigrant and Sexual Minority Mental Health: Reconsidering Multiculturalism, I have been reflecting on how I apply the DIFT framework in my private practice. The DIFT framework focuses mainly on multicultural and sexual minority populations. Yet, it is used with a variety of clients, regardless of their cultural or socio-economic background.
Following the DIFT framework, clients navigate their presenting problem(s) through five overlapping theoretical perspectives: psychoanalytic, narrative, multicultural counselling, Buddhist psychology, and cognitive behavioral. Clients start either long or short-term therapy by exploring their pasts (psychoanalytic therapy) and end it by learning present-focused techniques (cognitive behavioral therapy).
This framework is unique. Even though there are five theoretical perspectives, clients decide how they use the DIFT framework. The can choose to work through all five types of therapy or choose one Western perspective and one Eastern perspective to structure their counselling journey. For example, a client may choose psychoanalytic therapy along with multicultural counselling and therapy. The client will first unpack family of origin and/or personality development and then move onto more bicultural identity formation work.
The versatility of the DIFT framework allows me to adapt it to my clients’ needs by replacing multicultural counselling and therapy with a family systems perspective. By helping clients discuss their past actions and patterns, re-author their intentions, become mindful of their actions, and lastly engage in more rational thinking, clients leave therapy feeling revitalized and empowered.
Sodhi, P. (2017). Exploring immigrant and sexual minority mental health: Reconsidering Multiculturalism. New York, NY: Routledge.