Becoming A Culturally Competent Counselor

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Becoming a culturally competent counselor How has your decision to become a counselor influenced your views towards cultural diversity? My decision to become a counselor influenced my views towards cultural diversity in the sense that it opened my eyes to other cultures and the fact that people’s cultures affect human behavior greatly. My decision to become a counselor taught me that the impact of culture is different for each individual. I learned not to generalize and to stereotype my clients. People have reasons for behaving the way they do or for acting in a certain way. and most of this behavior stems from their culture. In order for me to be a competent counselor, I have to perceive beyond what the student is saying, and look into why he or she is behaving in a particular way. How would you describe your cultural identity development at the current time using a model? I would describe my cultural identity development at the current time using the racial/cultural identity development. The first stage of my cultural identity development started with conformity. I accepted the dominant beliefs and customs being practiced by most people, and admittedly, I have discarded some of my own less popular and less dominant beliefs and practices. As a result, there was a certain dissonance because of the conflicting messages and observations inconsistent with my views of my culture and the dominant culture (Sanchez, n.d). I questioned the dominant beliefs that I conformed with previously. I saw how these dominant practices are unfairly damaging to my culture. After the stage of dissonance, I learned to completely embrace my cultural values and to reject the dominant beliefs. I also felt shame for abandoning my beliefs just because they were not popular. In the process, I regained pride in my culture and my beliefs. However, following the acceptance of my minority beliefs, I went through the stage of introspection where I learned to assess both minority and dominant beliefs and to integrate them into my life. After going through such process, I now developed an inner sense of security in my beliefs. I learned to accept people’s peculiarities and culture even if they were so different from the rest of the world (Sanchez, n.d). I learned that it is possible for the dominant and the minority beliefs to coexist, to take the strengths of each aspect and apply them in one’s life. Consider the nature of your cultural experience, describe five strengths you will bring to multicultural counseling? Considering the nature of my cultural experience, five strengths I will bring to multicultural counseling will be my openness, my honesty, my sense of respect for other cultures, my perceptiveness, and my creativeness. I am open to people’s peculiarities and preferences. their having another culture or belief different from mine would not interfere in how I would relate with them as clients. I understand the fact that people are different and such differences should be expected. My honesty will also help me in understanding and relating to what my clients narrate and share. This honesty will also help students in facing their personal issues and in dealing with these issues. Another strength I have is that I have a deep sense of respect for other people’s beliefs. I have experienced being ridiculed for my beliefs in the past. Those experiences have taught me that respecting other people’s beliefs is the best way for me to be accepted and respected in return. I also have a keen sense of perception. Having this quality will help me ‘read’ and understand my clients. to understand their non-verbal gestures and actions. to look behind their seemingly tough aura and to see a student struggling with his own identity and beliefs. Finally, I have learned through experience that I can be very creative as a counselor. This creativity will help me be more innovative in my methods as a multicultural counselor. There are ways and methods I can employ which will help maximize the resources I have. With the diversity of beliefs present in society today, I have to expect different types of people who will enter my door. Each case and student is special, and I have to make room for the fact that what may work for one student, may not always work for another. Within the same text, describe five weaknesses you currently have which could prevent you from being a cultural competent counselor? My weaknesses in this same regard include: limited knowledge about other cultures, procrastination, bluntness, empathy, and a limited delegation skills. I still have not quite gained enough knowledge about other people’s cultures. My sense of perfection about my craft dictates that I should know as much as I can about the cultures that I might meet in my practice. Admittedly, my weakness on this regard is the limited knowledge about the different minority cultures in society. They are the ones I need to focus on because they have a bigger potential of entering my door. And there are aspects of their lives that I need to be enlightened with before I can be an effective counselor. I also tend to procrastinate at times. Throughout the years, I have learned to deal and avoid procrastinating. I always make a ‘to-do’ list and set a schedule for my activities in order to ensure that things get done. However, I still have not completely eliminated this quality. And this quality will likely interfere with my work as a multicultural counselor because there may be some things or some aspects of my job that will not get done. Another weakness is that I tend to be too blunt with clients, especially when they are being difficult. I mentioned previously that I am an honest person, however, I tend to be too honest with other people to the point of bluntness. I realize that this is not a good quality to have as a counselor, and this quality may interfere with my client’s openness. From a client’s point of view, my bluntness may be a sign of insensitivity and failure to understand his/her culture and issues. Another weakness that I have is that I tend to empathize too much with clients, especially with the underdogs. I sometimes cannot do away with my need to help those who are being given a hard time by the rest of society. This sense of empathy will interfere with my objectivity as a counselor. I might be swayed and led by my emotions, not by the facts or actual issues. My understanding of the student’s culture is no longer based on the peculiarities of their culture, but on my emotions. I also have trouble delegating. I sometimes feel that if I do delegate, the job would not be done well. There may be a point in my career as a counselor that it would be best for me to delegate or turn over a client to another counselor or maybe to a health professional. And my wanting to hold on and handle everything, instead of letting others help will surely interfere with my role as a multicultural counselor. Describe five attitudinal and five knowledge goals for yourself that, if met would help you develop as a culturally competent counselor? Five attitudinal goals that, if met would help me develop as a culturally competent counselor would include: listening skills, objectivity, caring attitude, confidence, and rapport with client. By engendering an attitude of being a good listener, I know I can become a culturally competent counselor. Being a good listener can help clients open up about their true feelings and issues. Maintaining an objective attitude will help me develop as a culturally competent counselor because I can assess and deal with a situation without allowing my personal judgment or beliefs to cloud an issue. It will allow me to counsel a client as an honest and objective party, not a prejudiced one. Having a caring attitude can also help me develop as a culturally competent counselor. Caring about other people, about what they think, what they feel, and who they are will help improve my likability. When clients know that I genuinely care about what they think and what they feel, it will help them become more open. I am also aiming to improve my confidence. Improving my confidence will help me develop as a culturally competent counselor because such confidence will put across the message that I have the abilities and the know-how in helping clients deal with their issues and problems. Finally, an attitudinal skill that I would like to develop in order to be a competent counselor is establishing rapport with my client. This goal and skill will help set the tone for the interview and for the session with the client. It can decrease and put down barriers, allowing the client to open up and to realize that I am listening to him/her and that he/she can trust me. Five knowledge goals that, if met, would help me develop as a culturally competent counselor are the following: culture-specific knowledge, cross-cultural counseling techniques, broad knowledge about various cultures, behavioral psychology, and common culture-specific issues. Culture-specific knowledge can help me competently work with a client. I cannot be an effective counselor if I hardly know anything about my client’s culture. This knowledge must not be too general, it must be specific to the client. And the stereotypes about each culture must be discarded because even a particular race has different qualities. Knowledge about cross-cultural counseling techniques will also help improve my competence as a counselor. It is important for me to learn techniques about how to counsel some conservative Asians, American-Indians, Arabs, Jews, Black-Americans because each race and/or culture has certain peculiarities and unique qualities. What may apply to an American will sometimes not apply to another culture. Having a broad knowledge about various cultures will definitely help improve my competence as a multicultural counselor. An easy and convenient way for me to ‘reach’ a client is to know as much as I possibly can about his culture. From the client’s point of view, the counselor’s broad knowledge about his culture will encourage him to open up and to accept counsel. Extensive knowledge about behavioral psychology can also help me become a competent multicultural counselor because these are foundations of human behavior common and applicable to most individuals. It can help me properly assess a client based on his or her physiology and expected manifestations of human behavior. Finally, knowledge about common culture-specific issues can also help me become a competent counselor because this knowledge will become a starting point in my assessment of the client. For example, by realizing that Muslims take issue with being stereotyped as terrorists. or that minorities are always being discriminated against, will help guide the counseling session to a fruitful direction. There are various tools needed by a multicultural counselor. As demonstrated above, I am aware of the fact that there are so many skills and areas I need to improve on in order for me to become a competent counselor. One of the most important keys to being a competent counselor is openness about other people’s culture and practices, especially when these are difficult from hours. I am determined to gain enough knowledge and expertise in order to become a culturally competent counselor.Works CitedSanchez, C. (n.d) Racial/Cultural Identity Development: Integrating Various Models into One. University of Iowa. Retrieved 13 July 2009 from