The value of Geek Therapy and cultural competence

Dear geek therapy,
Typically I do not write letters like this but then something happened…

That’s the way some magazine letters start, but the sentiment here is the same. In my day job, I am a supervisor for a small collective of community therapists. Recently we had a rather challenging young man we needed to complete an assessment on. The young man was not rude, but very dismissive, putting very little effort in providing information, and offering single word answers to assessment questions. But then something happened that cracked the wall; The assessor began to talk about their love of comics and anime. The child lit up and opened up to the discussion. He was able to identify characters he connected with, and how he has had similar experiences. In essence the assessor found one of the keys to entering into an I and thou relationship, just by being authentic and sharing a piece of themselves. Being a geek is not itself a cultural competency, but being able to be real, and tune in to client interests is. This site and this idea of geek therapy is bigger than we think. Engaging clients in their personal interests can go a long ways towards building trust and opening communication. This is anecdotal obviously, but it points to the importance of what we are working towards here, and I thought it was worth sharing.

If we can do so without contravening any confidentiality, we should use this forum to tell our stories. This is how geek culture is saving the world.


We tend to think about cultural competency as religion and ethnicity, but we forget that popular culture is culture. In fact it is THE culture of this century. You can claim to be from a specific religion and ethnicity, and that will serve as your background, but your connection to the stories that the world shares through the internet, through books and through movies and games… all of that is part of your formative culture as well. Pop Culture is culture and thus should be a part of cultural competency. It doesn’t mean you have to be a lord of all things geek, but you have to know that everyone has been impacted by stories differently and recognizing that in someone is a step toward forming better relationships with people and patients.