L0 6.1 Working with Diversity and Difference
28th March 2013
In this assignment I will explore how diversity, equality and anti-discrimination practices need to be addressed in the counselling room. It will also explore how the BACP ethical framework helps inform and guide our counselling work and the legal requirements of being a counsellor. Clients come to counselling from a wide range of diverse backgrounds. Pederson (1994) sites Diversity as a broad definition of multicultural counselling which covers “ethnographic variables such as ethnicity, nationality, religion and language; demographic variables such as age, gender and place of residence; status variables such as social, educational and economic; and affiliations including both formal affiliations to family or organizations and informal affiliations to ideas and a lifestyle' (p229)” Counselling has traditionally been an ethnocentric or “culturally encapsulated” activity based on the prevailing white, middle class, which has a central notion of normality based on distinctive mainstream approaches, values and assumptions such as the individual is encouraged to be independent and autonomous and these are highly valued and rewarded in society. Further, I have been taught that I have to work hard to achieve success and the nuclear heterosexual family is seen as the central ideal where the male is the breadwinner and head of the household and the female is homemaker and subordinate to the husband Culturallly, individuals are encouraged to be competitive and there is a win loose element as well as a master and control where something has to be done about a situation and solutions sought. Communication is expected through the medium of english with limited physical contact and direct eye contact and we have been brought up to control our emotions. Time and adherence to it is viewed as a commodity and holidays are based on traditional Christian religious festivals who favour a single god concept. Historically there is a hierarchy and patriarchal system of white male leaders where status and power have been measured by economic possessions, academic titles and positions with the belief that we are superior and more civilized to other races and cultures. There would be reluctance to give up this power in our society and it is understandable, I would not want to change my attitudes and behaviours, this is very difficult. I grew up and live in the above dominant culture where I am perceived as a white able bodied female therefore what issues would I need to consider when working with a client who presents with the difference of gender reassignment as I personally have no experience whatsoever of trans woman relationships. I would be basing my perspective on my prejudicial ideas that there are only two sexes – either man or woman so I would struggle with where does this person fit in the gender stereotypes as it is a direct challenge to my socially constructed attitudes and assumptions to what is expected. I would find this an extremely difficult and uncomfortable area to work with and it would bring up countertransference feelings of anxiety, fear, shame, feeling wrong, being cruel, and guilt for me because I would wonder if the person was abnormal or mentally ill. I have prejudices and biases about transgender and I am aware that this does not just apply to me, it will apply to us all.I have an idea but I do not necessarily understand the whole picture. This is where I would have to challenge my own thinking and feelings as I am aware that I am being judgemental, labelling this difference. I am not sure I can or know how to be empathic with what appears to me to be a disturbing mental disorder which I have little tolerance of because I am ignorant and I would struggle accepting a transgenders identity. I am aware that I am projecting my bias on to the client and this would be treating another human being less favourably on the grounds of their sex which is discrimination...
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