Essay: Multicultural competence

In the modern context today, demographic changes are becoming more prominent across the globe and this phenomenon suggests that multicultural counseling is inevitable. Hence, the importance of counselors’ multicultural competence, which refers to the ability to interact effectively to individuals that are culturally of socioeconomically different, cannot be overstated. For this instance, counselor would have to be multicultural competent in order to effectively communicate to client that comes from different culture. With that in mind, this essay I will further discuss the relevance of multicultural competence on the effectiveness of multicultural counseling.
Due to the increasing diversity of culture in the society, individuals seeking help from counselors could show up with various cultural backgrounds. In order to adapt to this arising situation, counselors are required to have an understanding of various way that culture could have an impact on the counseling relationship. For example, a male counselor might be casually greeting his client, who happens to be a female Muslim, with a handshake. Unaware of the Muslims’ cultural background where in males are not permitted to touch or give a handshake to the opposite gender, the counselor is actually performing a forbidden action. This lack of sensitivity to individuals’ cultural background can cause serious consequences, such as, individuals’ refusal to participate, which in turn hinder the development of counseling relationship (Ahmed, Wilson, Henriksen Jr., & Jones, 2011). Therefore, I believe that the counselors’ role have evolved with the diversity of culture, requiring them to be more cultural wary and provide multicultural guidance, in other words, being multicultural competent.
To further elaborate, multicultural competent is the fluency in more than one culture or specifically, whichever culture that the individual is currently in. Moreover, Sue and Sue (2012) defined multicultural competent counselor with three main dimensions. Firstly, being multicultural competence mean to be actively aware of their own assumption about behaviors, values or biases. Secondly, multicultural competence counselor attempts to understand from the perspective of a culturally different client. Lastly, multicultural counselors actively develop and practice intervention strategy when guiding client with different cultural background. All in all, being multicultural competence enables counselor to realize that standard counseling method might not be beneficial to client with different cultural background and also understand that culture is not to be hold accountable for clients’ problem.
However, despite being multicultural competent, cultural groups are not discrete, instead, cultural groups are overlapping. In today’s multicultural context, individuals ultimately acculturate to different culture, which results in a blurring difference between each individual. Furthermore, even if it were possible to classify every client into different subgroup, it would be an insurmountable task to be prepared for every possible client. Therefore, instead of emphasizing on the clients’ differences, Patterson (2004) suggested to employ a universal system that known as the person-centered approach. With reference from the person-centered approach, counselors’ role remains the same, as to assist and guide their client to reach goals and objective, however their focus have been shifted from having proper skill set or technique, being knowledgeable, informative and focuses more on genuinity, empathetic and shows unconditional positive regard (Raskin, Rogers, & Witty, 2008).
Even though it may be impossible to classify every client into a specific subgroup, multicultural training has shown to decrease implicit racial prejudice and increase cultural self-awareness (Castillo, Brossart, Reyes, Conoley, & Phoummarath, 2007). By increasing cultural self-awareness and acknowledging how culture could affect the process of counseling, this will enable the counselor to develop an empathic understanding towards their client. Moreover, by reducing racial prejudice, counselors refrain from judging clients based on their own values or cultural beliefs and also help clients reach goals and objectives without imposing their personal cultural values on clients. Whereas a typical counselor without multicultural competent are seen to be less empathic, lack of cultural-specific knowledge and may even seen as having racial stereotypes or biases (Chang & Berk, 2009). This feeling of mistrust towards the counselor would eventually lead to an undermined counselors’ credibility, which can have an impact on the counseling relationship.
In conclusion, with the numerous studies’ findings, I believe that multicultural competence could improve the effectiveness of counseling. As the society becomes more interconnected through the globalization process, multicultural competent counseling become increasingly important to address the issue that may surface from an array of cultural background. Although it may be difficult to identify which cultural group a particular client belongs to in order to practice specific intervention, being multicultural competent have shown to be generally increasing the effectiveness of counseling by decreasing implicit prejudice and increasing counselors’ self-awareness of personals’ values and clients’ values. Furthermore, focusing on the knowledge and skill set of the counselor, encourage counselor to be more problem-focused rather than emotion-focused, which might cause client to feel that the solution provided were not tailored to their specific life context. Therefore, despite the contrary, counselor who are multicultural competent would still yield benefits in the society today.

Source: Essay UK -

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