Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Role Models and Identity

I mentioned the issue of role models, both in the music industry and other forms of media that contribute to these dysfunctional, inaccurate, and distorted male roles on television (usually written by White writers). The media's portrayal of Black males tends to vilify them, but also serves as a model that looks positive for some young men. White counselors as well as people of color may have these images cemented into their consciousness. When these distortions and inappropriate messages are relentlessly pounded into our consciousness for years, it can be difficult to replace them with the reality, especially if we are no longer sure what the reality is. Even as counselors, this can certainly take a determined effort to make change.

Contrary to what others have said about the Helms model having construction that favors one culture over another, I believe she made an authentic effort to create fair assessment models. I did read, however, that some detractors thought her assessment properties were pseudoscience (Sue & Sue, 2008).

Parham and Helms found that "it is very difficult if not impossible to understand the lifestyles of Black people using traditional theories developed by White psychologists to explain White behavior" (p. 255). Certainly this study is in agreement with contemporary wisdom that tells us that any model or assessment we use to make judgment on a client or another person must be appropriate and created in consideration of the cultural context of the individual, otherwise the results will be fairly meaningless.

Parham, T. A., & Helms, J. E. (1981). The influence of Black students' racial identity attitudes on preferences for counselor's race. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 28(3), 250-257. doi: 10.1037/0022-0167.28.3.250

Sue, D.W., Sue, D (2008). Counseling the Culturally Diverse Theory and Practice (5th ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey

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