Counseling and Diversity

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Counseling and Diversity

Liberty University

Brandi McCain

People of different cultures seem to differ from past generations in that they seek to retain many of their cultural values and are less interested in becoming regulated within the U.S. culture. This distinctness can create a potentially complex situation for both the client and counselor who may differ substantially in their own cultural values. For successful therapy to take place, it is important for counselors to be culturally sensitive of clients and avoid stereotyping. To minimize the risk of misunderstanding and misinterpreting our clients we should acknowledge the influence of culture and respond respectfully to these cultural differences, values, and beliefs. This paper will define counseling and diversity and its disparities as well as address five cultural aspects that affect the counseling profession. Ethical, religious, legal, socioeconomic status and cultural values all greatly affects various measures of multicultural counseling. Introduction

Due to the changing demographics of society, as well as a growing awareness that race, ethnicity, and culture are central to understanding the experience of every individual, there has been a crusade to make counseling and diversity more inclusive. “In fact, some psychologists have gone so far as to state that if the field of psychology does not break from being an unbiased science with an ethnocentric focus on European American psychology, it risks becoming "culturally obsolete" (George William, 2001). Sensitivity to counseling diverse groups of people is essential. There are three serious errors that can be made in multicultural counseling. “The first error is overemphasizing similarities, which leads to a melting pot in which the majority prevails over minorities, trivializing cultural identity.” “The second error is over-emphasizing differences, which leads to stereotyping and hostile disengagement, disregarding the need for common ground.” “The third error is to assume that one must emphasize either similarities or differences.” To remedy this, Locke states “that counselors should increase self- awareness and develop significant knowledge and understanding of other cultures and their distinctions.” Locke(1993) According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census (2010), 43% of U.S. citizens identify as an ethnicity that is not Caucasian.¹ Specifically, 16% of citizens classify themselves as Latino, 13% as African American, 3.2% as Asian, 5% as American Indian or Alaska Native, 5.5% as other races, and 2.4% as multiracial. Hence, the need to become culturally sensitive in the counseling field is immense. The minority population grew in every region significantly between 2000 and 2010; therefore, multicultural counseling is not a very old concept. In past decades, a minority seeking a counselor for help with a mental or relationship issue was very uncommon. In fact, multicultural counseling has only become an important factor in the counseling field in the past 35 or 40 years. Discrimination and inequality used to be very prevalent in the counseling field, and has instigated many organizations and associations. One such association began as the association for non-white concerns in personnel and Guidance and is now called the Association for multicultural counseling and development. “AMCD is now celebrating more than thirty-five years of service to the helping professions, their founders and leaders employ all members to continue promoting appreciation, awareness and understanding of the unique cultures of their mosaic society.” AMCD (2012) - The individual most identified as leading the founding of ANWC is Samuel H. Johnson of Atlanta, Georgia. He was a minority who had a vision to break barriers of racism in the field of counseling and psychology. “The mission of the organization, from the beginning, was to recognize human diversity and multicultural nature of our society; to enhance the...
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