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Combining Culture with Counseling

January 2022

McKay School of Education

Silhouette of two people having a conversation in front of a window.

Inspiring learning moves students in different ways and helps each of them follow their own path. For McKay School student Bango Gancinia that path is to combine cultural heritage with counseling to better serve minorities.

During a doctoral internship at the University of Oregon Counseling Services, Gancinia, a Hawaiian- Filipino from Hawaii, used a therapeutic approach that integrates Western practices with humor, spiritual elements, and cultural traditions of Pacific Islanders. In his research, he found that young Pacific Islanders responded positively to counseling with humor—a hopeful finding given that Polynesian males show high levels of depression and anxiety as well as a stigma against seeking help.

“A part of my dream is to inspire young people to be proud of their culture and heritage and know they can bring pieces of themselves into their work,” says recent graduate Gancinia.

Gancinia received a PhD in counseling psychology. His dream is to one day run therapy practices that are centered on healing and uplifting communities in under- served Hawaiian areas. Gancinia, who is grateful for his heritage and all that being a part of a community has meant for him, says, “This degree belongs to my people.”