Just like doctors, counselors also take an oath of “do no harm”. We also obviously have more aspects than that in our oath, which we call fundamental principles. Part of what falls under these principles is the idea of multicultural competence. In today’s post, I am going to talk about the importance of it and what counselors do to make sure we treat everyone fairly and with the utmost respect. This post is going to be written in a way that you can see what your counselor (if you see one) should be doing with you to obey these principles. Because unfortunately, let’s be honest, just like some doctors dismiss what you tell them, some counselors do the same thing.
Multicultural counseling is what happens when counselors work with clients from a different culture and take into account how it might affect interactions within the relationship. These differences include sexual orientation, gender, age, socioeconomic status, and location. The first step in being culturally knowledgable is recognizing these differences if they exist.
Identify cultural differences
One of the first steps in counseling is to discuss why a person is there. In some cultures, asking questions straight up isn’t socially ok. Asian and Native Americans find that style to be impolite and invasive. Recognizing and being sensitive to the differences is key in establishing a trusting relationship.
Understanding & addressing issues in multicultural counseling
The most basic thing you can do to understand someone else’s culture is to just ask. They should openly acknowledge that there is a difference. They should ask questions in a respectful manner about your worldview, belief system, and how you solve problems in your culture. Learning about you will allow them to create culturally sensitive interventions with you.
The most important thing a counselor can do for themselves is self-reflection. They must identify their own worldview and personal beliefs about individuals who are different than them. It helps them realize their own feelings
Your counselor will never understand every unique thing about your culture or anyone else’s. They are in a constant state of learning and remembering. So if they mess up, tell them something they did was offensive or that its not a part of your culture. If they care, they’ll apologize, maybe ask you more about it in a respectful manner, and do their best at it happen again.