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Multicultural Issues

By Vanessence May 27, 2015 980 Words
Multicultural Issues in Supervision
Ethical supervision must consider the ways in which diversity factors can influence the process. In addition to course work, supervisors need a framework to approach differences in culture, race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, and other variables pertaining to clients being seen by trainees (Falender & Shafranske, 2004). The ACA’s (2005) code of ethics dealing with supervision states that “Counseling supervisors are aware of and address the role of diversity in the supervisory relationship” (F.2.b.). Barnett (in Barnett, Cornish, et al., 2007) makes three key points: Attention to diversity issues in the supervision process is critically important. Effective supervisors are aware of their impact on the attitudes and beliefs of supervisees; they use the supervisory relationship to promote attention to, and respect for, the range of diversity of those they serve. Supervisors strive to increase their supervisees’ awareness of how diversity is a factor with all their clients; diversity concerns become a major focus of discussion in the supervision sessions. In a five-year review of the literature on clinical supervision, Borders (2005) found a trend toward increased attention to multicultural supervision. Various writers have emphasized the supervisor’s responsibility for introducing cultural variables into the supervisory dialogue throughout the supervisory relationship. In all the studies Borders reviewed, supervisor–supervisee discussions included specific multicultural variables and the influence such discussions have on the supervisory relationship. Multicultural supervision encompasses a broad definition of culture that includes race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion, gender, and age (Fukuyama, 1994). Supervisors have an ethical responsibility to become aware of the complexities of a multicultural society (see Chapter 4). Ethical and competent supervision involves recognizing and addressing the salient issues that apply to multicultural supervision. Supervisors need to ensure that all assessments, diagnostic formulations, counseling interventions, and the supervisory process itself are sensitive to the range of diversity that supervisees may encounter (Barnett & Johnson, 2010). In this section we take a closer look at some of these issues as they relate to supervision. Racial and Ethnic Issues

There is a price to be paid for ignoring racial and ethnic factors in supervision. If supervisors do not assist supervisees in addressing racial and ethnic issues, their clients may be denied the opportunity to explore these issues in their therapy. Cook (1994) calls for routinely including discussions of racial identity attitudes as part of both therapy and supervisory relationships. The supervisor’s recognition of racial issues can serve as a model for supervisees in their counseling relationships. Reflecting on racial interactions in supervision offers a cognitive framework for supervisees to generalize to their counseling practices. Priest (1994) focuses on the supervisor’s role in enhancing the supervisee’s respect for diversity. Because of the power dynamics inherent in the supervisory relationship, Priest believes it is the supervisor’s responsibility to serve as the catalyst for facilitating discussions about multicultural issues. He points out that too often supervisors emphasize client similarities and minimize racial and cultural differences. If trainees do not understand the cultural context in which their clients live, Priest believes the chances are increased that trainees’ behavior will result in clients’ prematurely terminating counseling. When supervisors are working with trainees from a different ethnic or cultural background, Allen (2007) believes it is particularly important that supervisors acquire knowledge and skills in culturally congruent methods and styles of supervision. Supervisors must use culturally appropriate modes of social interaction, and they need to recognize how their position of authority is likely to play out in the supervisory relationship. Supervision across cultures requires acknowledging cultural differences in values and learning styles and being willing to make adjustments by including these differences in the supervisory process. Toward effective multicultural supervision

Constantine (1997) proposes a framework to facilitate learning multicultural competencies in supervision relationships. Ideally, this framework is introduced during the early stages of the supervision relationship because it helps to establish rapport between supervisors and supervisees. It also highlights the importance of paying attention to multicultural issues in the supervision process, and it sensitizes students to ethical issues. In using Constantine’s framework, supervisors and supervisees discuss their responses to this series of questions: What are the main demographic variables that make up my cultural identity? What worldviews—assumptions and values—do I bring to the supervision relationship based on my cultural identity? What value systems are inherent in my approach to supervision? What culturally influenced strategies and techniques do I use in supervision? What knowledge and skills do I possess about the worldviews of supervisors (supervisees) who have different cultural identities from me? What are some of the issues and challenges I face in working with supervisors (supervisees) who are culturally different from me? How do I address these issues? In what ways would I like to improve my abilities in working with culturally diverse supervisors (supervisees)? Although this framework was initially developed for use in the early stages of the supervision process, Constantine (1997) states that it can be used to help supervisors and supervisees continue their discussion of multicultural concerns and differences throughout the supervisory relationship. Implications for training and supervision

Westefeld (2009) urges supervisors to be concerned with multicultural competence in the supervisory process. He encourages supervisors to directly address multicultural issues as a way to help trainees achieve true multicultural competence in their professional practice. It is a mistake to assume that students will learn the skills they need in the single diversity course they take. Supervisors should integrate sensitivity to and understanding of diversity issues in all of their supervisory sessions and in all training activities (Barnett & Johnson, 2010). To develop the knowledge and skills to work effectively in multicultural counseling situations, trainees need to understand their own level of racial and cultural identity. Furthermore, they need to recognize how their attitudes and behaviors affect their clients. Good supervision will enable trainees to explore the impact that diversity issues may have on their counseling style.

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