Counseling Diverse Populations

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Counseling Diverse Populations1

Running head: COUNSELING

Counseling Diverse Populations Article

Scott Giberson

Eureka College

Psychology 372

Dr. Mikell Allen

Counseling Diverse Populations 2


In this article, South African counseling dilemmas are discussed and specific attention is given to cross-cultural obstacles faced by white counselors in a post apartheid era. Carl Rogers the founder of person-centered counseling visited South Africa and he defined techniques that enhanced the likelihood of cross-cultural counselors effectively helping black post apartheid South Africans. The article points out old traditional African counseling values and contrasts their effectiveness with Roger’s recommended focal points.

Counseling Diverse Populations 3

Post apartheid black South Africans have lived through a multitude of deplorable situations contained within their collective social, economic, and political contexts. In the past sixty five years Apartheid caused South Africans to endure unspeakable hardships at the hands of whites which they considered to be authoritative figures within South Africa’s sociopolitical majority. South Africans know white men have treated them horribly for generations and they understandably don’t trust a white counselor who says, “Trust me.” As Western white counselors attempt to provide psychological services for post apartheid black South Africans they struggle with complex cross-cultural issues. (Spangenberg, p.17)

This article discusses person-centered counseling as a tool which can be successfully used to bridge the gap between post apartheid black South Africans and their cross-cultural Western white counselors. Spangenberg (2003) sited Capuzzi & Gross (1995) as saying, “cross-cultural counseling is still in its infancy.” Some of the first problems were realized when the Western counselors discovered the South Africans had their own healing practices and those traditional practices didn’t involve counseling with a white man. To add to those problems, the obvious language barrier created a unique set of challenges too. While Western white counselors were trying to help the black South Africans the experts were saying that cross-cultural counseling wasn’t effective anywhere in the world. (Spangenberg, p.17)

That said, new psychotherapeutic techniques had to be born out of necessity. Initially, white counselors learned they needed to define their emotional position on blacks in South Africa and their sociopolitical position too. (Spangenberg, p.225) This practice was supposed to prevent the counselors from going through self discovery about those sensitive issues while in front of their clients distrustful eyes. Counselors couldn’t be honest with their clients if they themselves didn’t really know where they stand on black-white issues first. Counseling Diverse Populations 4

On a different note, Ivey and Ivey (2007) discusses many facets of person-centered counseling. For example, they point out that person-centered counseling should focus on the client’s self-actualization and the counselor should prepare to focus less on the clients reported problem(s). Also, the counselor should anticipate having to use a more concrete dialog as he speaks with his client. (p. 441) Similarly, counselors should prepare themselves to assist their clients as they become more self-aware. One technique requires the counselors to use leading pronouns such as you or yourself while they keep their clients focused by staying positive throughout the process. (p. 442-443) Also, Ivey and Ivey (2007) states that counselors should expect to rely heavily on their listening skills while they stay poised to reflect meaning when useful.

Furthermore, Carl Rogers the founder of person-centered counseling believes each person has potential...
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