Socialand Cultural Diversity
Weall have personal bias and use stereotypes, all the time,unconsciously. Every person has a biased global view because peopleare limited to a single camera viewpoint. It implies people are onlyable to see what comes before them (Reeves, 2013). No one has thecorrect version of reality. People’s social locations help informtheir worldview—their class, gender, sex, culture, sexualorientation, race, etc. Human worldview affects how they view, react,and respond to every experience. Cultural bias refers to a firmstance that all decisions must be based on one’s own values andbeliefs (Pannucci, 2011). Personal biases are subconscious obstaclesthat can emasculate unprejudiced decision-making. They usuallyintroduce unwarranted opinions as well as feelings into the scrutinyof an issue, making it nearly impossible to make a neutral andobjective decision (Pannucci, 2011). Common biases consist of thehalo effect, confirmation bias, and overconfidence bias. As atherapist, I have some personal biases that in one way or the othercan influence my work. Example a child molester as much I despisethem I will love to work with them to find out what trigger them intowhat it is that they do with innocent children, if I can help saveones it will make a different
Nobodyis immune from prejudice, not even therapist. Everyone become bias atgiven time. Therapist bias can take many forms, particularly withclients’ erotic orientations, gender, social status, and sexualityamong others. Prejudice ranges from distorted thoughts and viewsabout clients to be confusing polyamory with unfaithfulness to otherelusive attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions (Reeves, 2013). Bias ispart of every person, and we need strategies to learn from it, workwith it, and transform ourselves (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs,2012).
Iwas brought up in an environment where everyone was strong about isChristianity environment greatly shaped my perceptions, thoughts, howI relate to others. I always believe that everyone is equal beforeGod and must be treated with empathy and love. God wants us to live aspecific life and expect from us certain acts. If we go against Hiswill, we will face His wrath. However, these Christian’s values andprinciples have made me perceive people who normally acts against theGod’s teachings as evils, and I feel uncomfortable serving them butas a perspective counselor I have to overlook.
Iam comfortable with personally like gay and lesbian’s clients.Besides, I always assume that the best place to work in is incounseling, and I do not have any alternative. This has mainly beenshaped by my culture, the environment I grew up in and my parents. Myparents were staunch Christians with strong family values. They werestrict and ensured we dress, and behave in specified norm. Theneighboring community was also against gay and lesbian individuals.By acknowledging that I hold certain biases, I can begin to discoveras well as work with unexamined or unknown beliefs, attitudes, andperceptions to enhance my ability to understand the diverseexperiences that come with clients. I believe this can be bestachieved through deepening awareness and experience toward others andmyself.
Culturaldiversity is the existence of many different types of ethnic orcultural groups with society (Bainbridge, McCalman & Tsey, 2015).Appreciating the culture of people will enable a therapist performhis work effectively and will improve his relationship with theclient substantially. Collaborative relationships are always hard toform in the presence of personal, cultural biases (NationalAssociation for Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors. 2011).Therefore, these personal biases, for example, assuming that gaypeople are sinners and need repentance may force me to provide apartial therapy, which is mainly towards getting salvation andencouraging them to abandon their act and come back to God.
Homophobicattitude will not affect my work as a counselor. I always feelcomfortable with LGBT people. Domenici and Harris (2016) states thathomophobic attitude in psychoanalysts may influence theirdecision-making with gay clients, especially around moral issues.Friedman and Downey (2015) found a notable relationship betweenhomophobia and the probability of breaking confidentiality incircumstances where a client was thought as chancy to others. Mypersonal biases may cause me to misdiagnose depression in gay clientsas well as those I perceive to wearing inappropriate dresses. Thesebiases can undermine my progression of knowledge as well as altertherapeutic recommendations for psychological health conditions. Suchbiases might alter the recommendations I make to clients or caninfluence my understanding to a client’s problems.
Iwas brought up in a society in which the majority were AfricanAmerican. There were few Hispanic/ Latinos within this community.Fortunately, enough, have both parents and that is why we had theopportunity to live comfortable. My parents were African Americanswhile our immediate neighbors were Latinos family. The church weattended consisted of mixed races: the whites, African Americans,Asians, Latinos, and Asians. Our pastor emphasized the importance ofloving one another irrespective of color and races. My life in lowerelementary school was not an easy one. The school comprised mainly ofAfrican American in this school. I have not found it hard to survivein an environment where some Hispanic/ Latinos children could playwith me. I had only a few white friends.
Astime fly by I was fortunately, enough to be the first in the familyto be admitted to community college. The college had both studentsand staffs from various parts of the world. There were manyinternational students from Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, andSouth America it was consisted of culturally diverse people.Throughout my four years at the college, I realized my true self. Mythoughts and views about other cultures changed and I learned toappreciate other people’s culture. Before, I perceived white peopleas provocative and unfriendly, especially to blacks. This point ofview was influenced mainly by my earlier experience in early years.
Studentswho attend colleges or schools with a diverse population oftendevelop an understanding of the outlooks of children from variouscultural backgrounds and learn to function in a multiethnic,multicultural set up (U.S Department of Veterans Affairs. 2012). In adiverse cultural environment, it is important to make everyindividual to feel that they are important and included in thedecision-making process as well towards building a strong team.Whether the person is a Jew, Alaskan Native, an African,Arab-American, an Asian, a gay, is poor, a first Muslim, speaks withan accent, or wealthy they should feel welcomed, respected, and thattheir culture is important and unique.
Mostof my book club members were friendly and understanding. My classmatewas a Chinese from Beijing, she taught me a lot about their culture,and I learned to appreciate them. She was a casual, and funny personwith full of Chinese based stories. I loved to enjoy every bit of it.She influenced my perception about Chinese and gradually I began tolike to try different Chinese foods. I also interacted with Africans,Mexicans, and Indians. We made friends and through friendships, Icame to learn and appreciated their cultures. I also had anopportunity to work with a Mexican, Chinese, Arab and white in a teamproject. The group cooperation was excellent, and we managed toover-achieve the set objectives within the set period. I noticed thatworking with culturally diverse group allow one to become a liberalperson who respects people’s opinion without prejudice.
Mylife experience has taught me myriads of lessons, and I can nowcomfortably interact with everyone one irrespective of his or hercultural background. I was in love with a Kenyan Lady. She was caringand a strong, intelligent woman. She taught me that in Kenyanculture, a woman must always cook for her husband, iron her clothes,and never allow even a house cleaner to cook for her husband foodwhen she is around. In the beginning, I felt it was a funny cultureaimed at oppressing women. However, I came to learn, that mostAfrican women irrespective of their economic and education status,feel satisfied when they serve their husbands or spouses throughbasic home chores. Therefore, I respected her social views andlearned to accommodate them we are friends till this day.
Lagoand Smith (2013) defines racism as the antagonism, discrimination, orprejudice directed against an individual of a given race-based of thecredence that the race of the other person is superior or belief thatan individual is less superior because of customs, language, skincolor, birthplace or any other element that purportedly discloses thebasic nature of that individual. Discrimination is the prejudicial orunjust treatment of different groups of people or things, based onsex, class, age, or race. My life experienced has taught me never todiscriminate anyone (Lago & Smith, 2013). I vividly understandhow it feels to be discriminated. I often interact with clients whoare racists and who feel uncomfortable to share their problems withme. Others even openly refuse to accept my services just because theyfeel I am not qualified to solve their issues.
Frommy life experience, I have learned that perceptions and values ofmembers within the same ethnic group can be different. As I hadindicated earlier, I have a couple of Asian friends. Despite the factthat they come from the same culture, I can affirm the fact that thatI have heard many cultural-centered arguments between the two ofthem. Specifically, one of them comes from a seriously conservativefamily, while the other hails for the lack of a better word, a“modernized” family. Both of them have totally differentperceptions about the Asian culture, stemming from family-inducedperceptions and values. Surprisingly, both of them have totallydifferent notions about the afterlife. I expected both of them toshare similar values and perceptions about the afterlife by virtue ofbelonging to the same ethnic group but I was completely wrong! Atthis point in time, I knew that family values contribute greatly tothe significant differences in perceptions and values of memberswithin the same group. As a matter of fact, I am an American but Ican affirm that my American friends and I have totally differentvalues and perceptions about different cultural issues.
Mylife experience has greatly shaped my behavior, views, and thoughts.Even though every individual is unique, some have been oppressed ormistreated because they are a member of a given group. If we overlookthese historical or present-day differences, we may fail absolutelyto understand the needs of those people (Faculty, 2014). Often,individuals are scared that recognizing differences will cause a riftamong people. However, people can be brought together when we learntheir cultural differences since it will disclose important parts oftheir lives. It can reveal to us the common things we share as humanbeings (Pretzer, 2013).
Ihave come to learn that client-therapist relationship is importantfor effective treatment. When working with diverse clients, it isimportant that one understands the various ways culture influencecounseling relationship (Meyers, 2014). My experiences have enabledme to appreciate the fact that being insensitive to the uniquebackground as well as experiences of the client can lead to a clientrefusing to actively take part in counseling process,miscommunication, and eventually unproductive psychotherapyrelationship. These consequences can result in a therapist beingaccused of negligence, resulting in a disciplinary action being takenagainst you from a lawsuit, professional organization, or statelicensing board. Cultural competence is an important quality that atherapist must possess. The American Counseling Association (ACA) hasset forth detailed guidelines for providing counseling servicesculturally and ethnically diverse groups. This is found in their ACACode of Ethics. (American Counseling Association, 2014).
Myexperiences have taught me to know the challenges that affecttherapists. Language barrier is the biggest challenge. Acommunication issue left unexplored can result in allegations ofabuse or mistreatment (NWS Government. n.d.). However, some of thecommunication issues might stem from client-specific factors.According to Meyers (2014), communication strategies differ acrosscultures. We are all individuals, and two people from differentcultures, let alone the same culture, are guaranteed to communicatein exactly the same way when explaining themselves to theirphysicians. Nonetheless, Pannucci (2011) explains how generalizationsare validated to the level that they provide clues on what apsychologist is most likely to encounter when dealing with membersbelonging to a specific culture breeding biasness.
Toexplain further, the author notes the fact that there are two majorcommunication styles cross-culturally: low-context and high-context.To this effect, Faculty (2014) makes it clear that the choice ofcommunication strategy a client selects when expressing theirproblems always carry a cultural undertone. A client from ahigh-context culture chooses a communication medium that leaves muchof the message unspecified to be understood throughin-between-the-lines interpretation of what is being passed across.Such cultures, according to the author, include (but not limited to)Africans, Asians, Europeans, and Latin Americans. On the contrary,Faculty (2014) observes that low-context cultures express theirmessages explicitly including cultures like most of the German andEnglish-speaking countries. Therefore, the communication medium anAsian client selects portrays a completely different culturalundertone from that of an American client. To this point, it isevident that communication styles differ across cultures.
Asa culturally competent therapist, I acknowledge the importance ofovercoming cultural barriers in order to build rapport with myclients. It goes without saying that since different cultures havecultural-specific communication media, they equally have differentmodes of building rapport in the entire communication process. Whenworking with an Asian client, I will build rapport in the backdrop ofAsian-centered strategies of socially building rapport. On the samenote, when dealing with an African client, I will build rapport withan African client in a fashion that is culturally relevant to thesocial processes of African communication strategies. The sameapplies when I deal with clients from a myriad of culturalbackgrounds.
Thus,it is evident that strategies for building rapport are hugelydifferentiated on the basis of culture-specific factors. Creatingblanket assumptions by applying a one-size-fits-all rapport buildingstrategy as template for use on individuals from different culturalbackgrounds is what constitutes biasness and discrimination in thesense that a client might feel that his/her needs are not beinggratified. I can avoid this by constantly documenting the therapysession while noting down the steps I have taken to understand aswell as adjust to the culture of the client. I have also come to notethat the main goal of psychoanalysis is to understand the client as awhole and not just his ethnic orientation. I have also learned thatit is wrong to make assumptions about clients. For instance, somecultures always avoid eye contact to show respect (AmericanPsychological Association, 2011). However, I should understandwhether my client is avoiding eye contact because of other reasonssuch as feeling ashamed, being dishonest or she is uncomfortable.Assuming that the behavior of a client stems from a culture withouthaving to pose questions about how he is feeling may cause me tomisdiagnose, thus landing me on a serious trouble (Bainbridge,McCalman & Tsey, 2015). Per se, the process of getting to clearlycomprehend a client’s issues is individualized. As a competenttherapist, I have to inculcate all the client-specific issues inprocuring diagnostic procedures on my clients. Since I deal withindividuals from a myriad of cultures, coining individualizeddiagnostic procedures entails consideration of personal factorswhich justifies differential treatment methods. The guidelines,protocols, and diagnostic procedures applied on different culturesvary, and hence the existence of differential treatment methodsaccording to cultural or ethnic classification.
Myexperience has also enabled me to recognize the fact that honesty andopenness are essential. I can only become a culturally competentcounselor if invite honest and open dialogue about ethnicity and racein my healing sessions as well as employ professional activities andresources to develop my therapy skills with culturally diverseclients. As a therapist, I recognize that my clients come withspecial needs. Developing a therapy approach that takes into accountthe cultural orientation of the client and his own characteristicswill prove effective and successful (Meyers, 2014). To increase myproficiency in cultural competence, there are three sources I amcertain will be of great assistance to me: people, books, and theinternet. I am positive that the best source of amplifying my levelof cultural consciousness is humanity. Learning first-hand from myclients, according to me, is the greatest step to increasing mycultural proficiency. To improve my level of cultural consciousness,I could also search the internet for cultural factors that affect therelationship between therapy and treatment. Using these resources, Ican augment my knowledge about how culture affects therapy andtreatment outcomes. Having achieved an increment of my knowledge baseregarding the relevance of culture in treatment protocols, I can saythat I will be more informed regarding cultural diversity. Armed withsuch pertinent information, I will apply it to my future practice asa counselor by respecting and acknowledging the importance of culturein delivering improved health care to my clients. Per se, I will usemy newly acquired skills to factor in my clients’ cultural valuesin the diagnostic and treatment protocols. This achieved, I will be abetter therapist because I will be improving the outcome of therapyby coining solutions to client specific problems.
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