Responses to classmates 175 word count
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As we discussed, a person’s cultural background, including race, ethnicity, religion, family history, etc. affects the choices we make, our thoughts and behaviors, and plays a large role in our decision making process. Culture influences our individual values, as in the case of Liz. Her cultural background as a Mexican American, and her mother and father’s relationship while she was growing up, impacted the fact that she was willing to accept some abusive behavior from her husband, and her cultural values around family mean that she is willing to consider returning to her husband to keep her family together. Her cultural values are the lens from which she is viewing and thinking about her problems, and will play a critical role in her ultimate decision whether to stay with her husband or leave.
As a result of today’s residency, I feel much more comfortable approaching the issue of how one’s cultural background is affecting the individual and the issues which brought them to counseling. Asking the client to share a bit about their background, culture, values, and beliefs helps the counselor begin to understand the client’s worldview, and works well with my preferred approach of humanistic therapy because it takes into account the client’s values, and prioritizes using their values as a foundation around which to talk about their issues, and determine how to deal with those issues. I like the suggestion that was made to phrase the big cultural question as, “tell me what I need to know to help me help you.” We are all aware that we need to respect the background and values of our clients, but we also have a responsibility to incorporate their values into treatment, to ensure that we are not guiding them in any way that they feel is in CONFLICT with their values and beliefs. While we cannot tell Liz she should leave her husband, we can help her to acknowledge the role her cultural values has in her life and marriage, and we can ensure that we work from a values-based foundation to help Liz find ways to cope and live life in alignment with her treasured values.
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After today’s meeting and discussion, I view multicultural competency with a slightly wider lens. A multicultural discussion does not have to be centered just around race, gender, sexuality, or religion and there can be many different cultural experiences, like the family unit. When Cara was acting as the client and discussed being divorced and Gary pointed out that being divorced can still be considered a cultural difference. This was new to me and I was glad to learn about that.
As Gary stated, the best way to ensure having multicultural competencies in counseling is to discuss it right from the start and to discuss the importance of culture. Some individuals may not believe that their culture has any influence on their mental health or counseling concerns and if that is true for them, then we need to accept that as counselors. However, we must also be aware of our own culture as counselors and how this interferes with our view of others and the guidance and counseling that we can provide clients. I am a firm believer in staying up to date with the current events of society and oftentimes, this does require us to turn inward and be more familiar with our cultural beliefs and practices. We must always remain mindful of cultural practices and values held by us and others. We must always be willing to reflect and turn the lens inward if we hope to remain culturally competent.
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