Cultural Considerations in Counseling

Topics: Foster care, Fosterage Pages: 6 (2235 words) Published: January 30, 2012
Cultural Considerations
War is hard on anyone involved; however, it is especially hard on the children who are forced to live with it or in close proximity to it. Children typically lack the worldview to process the level of violence that occurs during war. The Nigerian children who were rescued from the refugee camp lived in extremely poor conditions and before arriving there were subjected to serious events that may change them forever. They are likely suffering from some severe psychological effects of war-time violence that need to be addressed in order to break the cycle of violence they may be in, but also to ensure their mental health both now and in the future. There are several aspects of psychological recovery that need to be addressed. First, it is important to understand the possible psychological effects of violence these children are experiencing. An intervention plan must be put in place to help mitigate the effects of this violence while also instilling the children with the resilience they need to begin living a 'normal' life. Other important considerations in helping these displaced and traumatized children would be cultural sensitivity, making sure to integrate their own culture and religion into their new lives here, and any ethical considerations that need to be made during treatment and resilience training with regard to the children's situation and their cultural background.

Perhaps, out of all who witness the destruction and devastation of the violence that accompanies war, children may be the most affected. According to Smith (2001), there are many negative effects of witnessing war besides the already serious effect of being exposed to violence. Children lose important access to basic resources such as good food, clean water, shelter, school, and basic health care. Losses of these resources can seriously impede not only physical growth, but cognitive and emotional growth as well. Additionally, as is the case with many of these refugees, family relationships may be tenuous at best with parents missing or dead and siblings separated due to the war itself or the inability to place family members in the same foster care unit. These children may be discriminated against or stigmatized if they have been forced to fight in the war, or, in the case of the girls, because of the religious stigma attached with sexual immorality, sexually transmitted diseases, or even children they have been forced to birth at the hands of captors (Smith, 2001). War and violence also take away a child's ability to look at the world as a decent place, call into question the meaning of life and events, and shatter a child's perception that he or she is worthy as human being (Condly, 2006). Additionally, the type of violence these Nigerian refugees have been exposed to puts them in danger of seeing violence as normal, thereby increasing their risk of continuing the cycle of violence in their lives as they grow up. According to Feldman (2010), middle childhood, which ranges from ages eight to thirteen, is characterized as a time when children are learning to form their worldview. Children who see a worldview that is shaped by violence, death, rape, and separation from that which is familiar (specifically family and culture) can have tremendous adverse effects on children's development.

There first step in an intervention program for these children should be to give them the basic resources they were lacking in the refugee camp. These children need proper food, shelter, access to medical treatment, and the security of a safe environment. The children need to have access to grief counseling, treatment for any post-traumatic stress disorder they may be experiencing, and a system of adult support in place that can, at the very least, provide guidance in place of lost parents. Equally important is matching the children with foster care that is either culturally similar, or at least willing to make the effort to let...

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Argosy University. (2011). Module 5 course notes. Retrieved 17 November 2011 from
Condley, S.J. (2006). Resilience in children: a review of the literature with implications for education. Urban education, 41(3), 211-236. Retrieved 17 November 2011 from the EbscoHOST database.
Culturegrams. (2011). Federal Republic of Nigeria. Retrieved 17 November 2011 from
Feldman, R.S. (2010). Child development (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Machel, G. (1996). Impact of armed conflict on children. UNICEF. Retrieved 17 November 2011 from
Smith, D. (2001). Children in the heat of war. Monitor, 32(8), 29. Retrieved 17 November 2011 from
Williams, R. (2007). The psychosocial consequences for children of mass violence, terrorism, and disasters. International Review of Psychiatry, 19 (3), 263-277. Retrieved 17 November 2011 from the ProQuest database.
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