CulturalDiversity Competence in Counseling
Asthe world becomes more globalized, different cultures continue tointeract. Due to cultural differences in how people think, argue,solve problems, relate or even perceive life, cultural interactionsare bound to result in new challenges for the people involved. Forcounselors, dealing with culturally diverse clients presents newchallenges that can hinder the practice if not well managed. Intreating culturally diverse clients, there are three main issuesraised by Ungar (2011) that should be considered as discussed next.
Counselorsshould be able to Individuals identify clients according to variouscultural groupings and their world views. It is necessary forcounselors to be informed of the various beliefs systems andworldviews shared by members of a given group though it is not a mustthat such individuals ascribe or identify with such cultures (Ungar2011). The main cultural groupings are based on regions, race andlanguage. For instance, people talk of Chinese or Arabs while thereare minor subdivisions of the groups with perhaps differentworldviews. However, these large groupings are further divided intosmaller categories. They include gender, class, age and sexuality.Counselors should thus be informed about the various worldviewslikely to be common among his clients (ACA, 2014). However,counselors should not always make assumption based on skin color offacial features to judge a clients world view or culture. It ishighly recommended that they ask clients about their culture.
Counselorshould be conscious of their subjective views of other cultures. Thisis critical in avoiding any cases of stereotyping clients that canhinder treatment. This is very critical given that some studies insome families in Canada have shown that youths can either associateor dissociate from the culture or worldview shared by their parents.This means to say that not all Mexicans in the US share or identifywith the worldview synonymous with Mexicans or Hispanics (Ungar2011). A counselor should be objective and put in place measures tosuppress any subjective views about a client’s culture butconstantly evaluation his ideas and beliefs towards a client. This ismost critical in communication where counselors are likely to assumeto understand the meaning of nonverbal communication such asgestures. In such cases, if a counselor does not free himself fromhis own culture, he will interpret such information wrongly.
Thethird issue to consider is to maintain the foci of therapeuticintervention. To do so, the counselor frees himself from his owncultural biases and views the client objectively. Secondly, thecounselor must own up any biased tendencies towards the client. TheYAVIS syndrome predicts that counselors have a preference orfavorable perception of young, attractive, intelligent, successful,and clients with verbal prowess (Corey 2011). Thirdly, counselorsmust remove barriers to access services such as high therapy fees rlanguage differences. To achieve real cultural competence, thencounselors should strive to learn new languages common among clientsand also be ready to lower fees for needy groups. And fourth,counselors should address the legal and social aspects that propagatecultural biases and racial discrimination by actively enlighteningsociety on the need for cultural competence and addressingdiscrimination of any form (Ungar 2011).
Anotherissue that is raised by Sue and Sue (2012) on cultural competencepertains to group counseling. The authors note that while dealingwith a heterogeneous group of clients, it is best to avoid basing thetherapy on any cultural worldview. This is necessary because othergroups might feel left out and lose out on the counseling. Theauthors advise that where possible, counselors should use amulti-pronged cultural approach that recognizes all the differentworldviews represent by a group.
AmericanCounseling Association (2014). Multiculturalismand diversity.Retrieved online on
Corey,G. (2011).Theory and practice of group counseling.New York: Cengage Learning
Sue,D. & Sue, D. (2012). Counselingthe culturally diverse: theory and practice.New York:
JohnWiley & Sons.
Ungar,M. (2011). Counselingin challenging contexts: working with individuals and families.
Belmont:Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.