Cultural Self Awareness

Cultural Self-Awareness
In today??™s society diversity has become the norm. It is not an option to become culturally aware, but rather it has become an essential part of the counseling profession. In order to practice in a multi-culturally competent manner, counselors must become aware of cultural issues. One would assume that all counselors are culturally competent given the skill set that being a counselor requires. Unfortunately, this is not always the case (Laureate Education, 2007). In combination with the above, a counselor must also be aware of the cultural influences that can affect an individual. These include age, development disabilities, disabilities acquired late in life, religious and spiritual orientation, ethnic and radical identity, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, indigenous heritage, national origin and gender (Sue, & Sue, 2008). The ADDRESSING framework introduced by Sue & Sue, (2008) is a tool that can be used to help a counselor assess his/her knowledge regarding cultural competence and biases (Sue & Sue, 2008)).
Many cultures highly respect and value their older population. Unfortunately, the U.S. is just the opposite; they prize youthfulness and tend to discriminate against the elderly. According to statistics, more than 12% of the U.S. population is 65 years old or older and remain our fastest growing population group (Robinson-Wood, 2009). As competent counselors, we must be aware of our own biases toward age and be sure that we are not involved in stereotyping the elderly as all being the same. Today??™s young/old, healthy, active 65-year-old should not be compared to the old/old, weak and frail 95-year-old. The challenge for counselors regarding this issue will be to become aware of their own feelings toward the elderly and identify their biases and work to eliminate them (Remley, Herlihy, 2009).
Development Disabilities
A prevalent form of discrimination against disabled individuals is focused on physical, developmental or mental disabilities. This type of prejudice is called Ableism and is manifested by a belief that disabled people do not function as full members of society. Disabled people account for the largest minority group in the United States (Remley & Herlihy, 2009). This problem still persists because counselors have not yet become aware that ???disabilities??? are a multi-cultural concern (Sue & Sue, 1999).
In order for counselor??™s to develop competencies that are necessary to provide effective counseling to this group, they must become aware of their own assumptions and biases and admit their own ableism and make an effort to understand how disability is interpreted by the client by exploring the clients cultural context and world view (Sue & Sue, 2008) what should i write my essay about
Religion and Spiritual Orientation
In recent years the concept of integrating religion and spirituality into the therapeutic relationship has become very important to many clients. A current survey showed that 79% of clients believe that spiritual experiences and religion are important to address in counseling. With a percentage that high the counseling profession has realized that they must recognize spirituality as an essential component of wellness (Remley & Herlihy, 2009). Many counselors discomfort with incorporating spiritual issues into their practice can have to do with their own lack of clarity, fear of imposing values, or questions about competence etc??¦(Sue & Sue, 2008)/
Ethnic Identity
Ethnic identity relates to a ???subset of identity categories in which membership is determined by attributes associated with, or believed to be associated with, descent based attributes (Chandra, 2010).??? Ethnic identity is a means for disadvantaged groups to claim a set of rights and privileges which the existing power structures have denied them (Trimble & Dickson, 2000). The goals for ethnic multicultural practice include self-awareness, knowledge, and skills. These goals are emphasized in every section of the ACA Code of Ethics (2005). There is an ethical obligation for counselors to make every effort to understand the diverse cultural backgrounds of clients they work with (Standard A.2c.). Standards regarding nondiscrimination and honoring diversity are included throughout the code in sections that address the counseling relationship (Remley & Herlihy, 2009).
To be an effective counselor for clients with various ethnic backgrounds, the practitioner should maintain a perspective that both acknowledges differences and celebrates similarities. They must be able to see each individual client as unique, while keeping in mind the clients common experiences as a human being and the experiences that are the result of his/her ethnicity (Trimble & Dickson, 2000).
Socioeconomic Class
Although the most counseling literature does not pay much attention to socioeconomic status as being a cultural variable, the fact is that it affects every aspect of a person??™s life, such as self-esteem, health care, violence, and perception of helplessness or power (Sue & Sue, 2008). Considering the fact that many counselors have a middle-class bias due to their own environment it could be a challenge for them to relate to the very poor. Consequently, counselors should consider working with disadvantaged clients by helping them attain skills that are grounded in empowerment. Counselors need to create a systematic approach that includes an understanding of the educational, family, political, criminal justice, and social welfare systems that affect clients??™ lives. They need to obtain skills in knowing how to be an advocate for low-income clients and have the ability to help clients obtain needed resources (Remley & Herlihy, 2009).
Sexual Orientation
It is obvious that homosexuals, transgendered and others who defy the norm in sexual orientation have experienced much oppression and stigmatization in the United States. Again these individuals have just recently achieved the status of a cultural minority that needs to be assisted by counseling at a higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts. Therefore, it is essential for counselors to explore their own biases concerning this issue and develop a cultural competence in working with them (Sue & Sue, 2008).
Indigenous heritage, national origin and gender
People of indigenous heritage have suffered unthinkable prejudice and discrimination. The definition of an indigenous people is those who are native to an area, country, or who naturally belong by heritage to a particular country or area. An example of an indigenous people is the Native Americans in the United States (Essandoh, N.D).
National origin discrimination is an illegal prejudice that allows employers to discriminate against an applicant solely because they are a certain nationality or come from a particular country or ancestry, or that are of a different ethnicity, or speak a foreign accent. National origin discrimination is prohibited in any aspect of employment, such as, firing, harassing or refusing to hire, promote, or transfer a covered worker, solely because of his or her national origin (Sue & Sue, 2008).
???National origin discrimination law is enforced at the Federal level under Title VII. Some states have their won national origin discrimination laws with equal or better protections than Title VII, whole other states have simply adopted Title VII.??? There is relief for this type of discrimination through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) if an individual reasonably believes that an employer is discriminating against them (Sue & Sue, 2008).
Gender discrimination is also known as sexual discrimination and it specifically denies opportunities, privileges to persons or groups because of gender. There are several forms of gender discrimination, such as, against women, sexual harassment, reverse discrimination etc??¦that denies rewards, promotions, jobs, and various other opportunities to certain individuals because of their gender. Federal laws strongly prohibit gender discrimination (McDonald, 2006)
In each of the above discrimination accounts, counselors are responsible to know that they are not allowed to discriminate against any of the situations and are encouraged to learn the laws and rules and regulations concerning these discriminatory actions. Counselors need to be aware of any personal prejudice concerning these issues and make an effort to eliminate them from their professional practice (McDonald, 2006).
Cultural Self-Assessment
My cultural self-Assessment is a little higher than average because of my Christian upbringing and my desire to please God. His command to us all is to ???love One Another??? and he didn??™t discard anyone on the basis of any of the above issues. Other positive considerations that have prevented me from forming deep prejudices is the family environment that protected me from hearing the ongoing discriminatory conversations that went on in our community. I took the Cultural Competence Checklist tests and scored very high on most of the questions. However, I did recognize some prejudices and biases regarding a few of the areas mentioned and my responsibility is to eliminate them and learn to counsel the client and love them just as I do clients who do not have these issues in their life (American Speech-Language Association, 2010). I also credit my education and especially my Masters courses in giving me clarity and insight about my role in multiculturalism and discrimination.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2010). Cultural competence checklist: Service Delivery; personal reflections; and policies & procedures. Retrieved from
Essandoh, P.K. (1996). Multicultural counseling as the ???Fourth force???: A call to arms. The Counseling Psychologist 24(126).
McDonald, J.J. Jr. (2006). ???Be nice, or be sued.??? Employee Relations Law Journal.
Remley, T.P. Jr., & Herlihy, B. (2010). Ethical, Legal and professional issues in counseling. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Pearson/Education Inc.
Sue, D.W., & Sue, D. (2008). Counseling the culturally diverse: theory and practice, (6th ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Trimble, J.E. & Dickson, R. (2000). Ethnic Identity. In C. B. Fisher & Lerner, R.M. (eds.:in press). Applied developmental science: An excyclopedia of research, policies, and programs. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

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