Harriet Cannon is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and Mental Health Counselor with 25 years experience in the US and internationally. She helps individuals, professional groups, and organizations create satisfying connections in their intercultural relationships, and success in their professional environments. I had a chance to interact with her recently about some of her exciting work. What follows is our brief interview…

Josh Sandoz: Harriet, you have an extensive history working as a mental health therapist in the United States and in other parts of the world. Can you share a little about your background in that work?

Harriet Cannon: I believe that insight about how our historical-cultural-socio-political context affects us is key to our relationship success. My parents were from diverse regions and religious backgrounds, although they were both born in the US. My family experience greatly affected my choice to become a marriage and family therapist and to be involved in intercultural work. I have over 25 years experience as a therapist in the US and in South America. In the last 15 years I have been working primarily as a therapist with people in multiethnic and multicultural relationships in private practice and with corporate clients expatriating and repatriating all over the world.

JS: In recent years you have transitioned into providing services as a consultant and trainer specializing in multicultural, multiethnic identity, and relationship dynamics. What is that work like, and how is you enjoying it?

HC: Raising my own daughter in Chile for some years peeked my empathy for immigrant parents. We lived on the economy with very few native English speakers to interact with. About 10 years ago, I decided to do some anecdotal research. I interviewed 47 immigrant mothers and their adult daughters looking to get insight on mother’s experiences raising a daughter in a culture not her own. I was so taken by the stories that I gave a presentation on my findings at the annual International Family Therapy Congress in 2005. That was the beginning of my shift to a focus on presenting, teaching, and writing about multicultural relationships. I am having a blast.

JS: From your experience, who might best make use of your services, and how would they go about contacting you?

HC: I take referrals for individuals, couples, and families in cultural transition; expatriating and repatriating. I also give presentations for mental health professionals, individual or group consultation for mental health professionals, schools, and community groups. I will create a training tailored especially for a group.

JS: Do you have any upcoming seminars on the horizon?

HC: Yes there are three full day workshops with CEU’s for mental health professionals.

My colleague, Rhoda Berlin, M.S., LMFT, and I have two upcoming trainings for mental health professionals in 2012:

‘Family History and the Immigrations Story in Therapy’

May 19, 2012 in Renton, Washington

‘21st Century Faces; Multiethnic Families and Identity’

September 21, 2012 in Seattle, Washington

I also  have a solo training:

‘Global Families and the Immigration Story’

October 17, 2012 in Santa Barbara, California

To contact me:

Website: www.harrietcannon.com

Email: harriet@harrietcannon.com

Telephone: +206 780 3843

JS: As we finish up, are there any exciting resources you often find yourself recommending to others who are interested in developing their thinking around multicultural, multiethnic identity, and relationship dynamics?

HC: My favorite recommendation is to choose the genre of fiction you most enjoy and read books where the story theme is intergenerational relationship dynamics or multicultural relationship dynamics. For example, anything by Amy Tan. Her books take into account many perspectives rather than MY story memoirs. Memoirs are great but don’t have a variety of relationship perspectives. Also movies, for example: ‘Real Women have Curves’, ‘Grand Torino’, ‘Lost in Translation’.

For non-fiction, a few favorites are:

‘Working across Cultures’ by John Hooker

‘American Nations: the history of 11 Rival Regional Cultures of North America’ by Colin Woodard

‘The Geography of Thought’ by Peter Nisbett

‘Cosmopolitan Communications: Cultural Diversity in a Globalized World’ by Norris and Inglehart

Rhoda Berlin and I are working on a book on Multicultural couples. We’ll let you know when it is ready for publication. Hopefully before the New Year.

JS: Thanks Harriet, for the work you are doing and for sharing more about it with us today.