Saturday, August 25, 2012

Forward Movement

I thought it was particularly moving when Parham (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) spoke about marginalized people and the fact that they will always experience unjustified and unwarranted struggle. As counselors, we must become culturally competent enough to help individuals from diverse populations that are antithetic to our own cultures so that we may sustain movement and momentum in the lives of those who struggle. Counselors must be able to reach into the world of individuals whose beliefs and worldviews are so different than ours and effectively help them find liberation within the context of that struggle. It may be simply that by virtue of your therapeutic alliance with them, they will thrive. This is the importance of cultural competence.

As people become more aware of cultural differences and oppression of one culture over another, it will be important for counselors to be aware of the experiences of these people and understand how to effectively help them in a context that is of consequence to them. I think Miville's (Laureate Education, Inc., n.d.) words were wise when she said "listen when you don't understand and be patient with yourself".

Rather than developing an awareness of cultural contexts that dump entire races into new stereotypes, it is important to understand our clients and their personal experience of their culture. All Native Americans are not the same. All Hispanic/Latinos are not the same. Stacee Reicherzer (2012), who is a faculty member here at Walden recently wrote in her blog, "don't pretend you're culturally competent if you're not" (para.1). Instead of settling for textbook solutions such as those advised by Sue and Sue (2008), I will continue to question and learn from those around me who are different, I will question my own values and worldviews, and learn from the person sitting before me. I will ask questions and not assume I understand the Alaskan native because I read a chapter in a book.

As we become counselors it is important to understand our own world view, as well as the worldviews of diverse populations that differ from our own (Laureate Education, Inc., 2007). Additionally, we will need to work toward developing intervention strategies that are appropriate for culturally diverse clients and consider established systems and work toward necessary change within them.

As Hays (2008) suggests as therapists,

           we do not have the option of ignoring cultural influences. If we are to work effectively with
           people of diverse identities, we must learn to deal with difference and conflict in ways that do
           not simply reinforce dominant power structures but rather empower and show respect for one
           another (p. 218).


Hays, P. A. (2008). Addressing cultural complexities in practice: Assessment, diagnosis, and therapy. (2nd ed.). Washington: American Psychological Association.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). The future of multicultural counseling. Baltimore: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2007). The journey ahead. Baltimore: Author.

Reicherzer, S. (2012, May 7). Don't pretend you're culturally competent if you're not [Web blog post]. Retrieved August 18, 2012, from

Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2008). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. (5th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

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