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The population of the United States is becoming more diverse by the day. Clinical mental health counselors must consequently exhibit competency in many cultures in order to improve service delivery and assist eliminate potential gaps in care for clients from varied ethnic, cultural, and racial origins (Converse, 2013). This paper is a personal journal in which I explore my own experience as a mental counselor through the lens of intercultural competency.
Self-awareness in the course of psychotherapy indicates a critical concern in counseling. Intercultural counseling competency refers to the degree of integration between the client and the counselor in orienting their philosophical values and views toward achieving a strong relationship, authority, and the openness.
When I started my practice, my I was guided by the theoretical knowledge and beliefs, attitudes, and values as enshrined in my White-American culture. I handled the clients with respect, and empathy, giving the family a minimal chance to contribute towards the treatment of my clients.
My experience as the “other”
I am a White-American raised in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. I recently interacted with a Mexican-American man who had an accident. In the process of identifying the health problems that led to his bad ordeal, I identified substance abuse, which was supported by the wife. Unfortunately, he denied based on his argument that taking a beer at the end of a hard days’ work for men is acceptable.
From my realization of my self-awareness and the “other,” I can deduce that lasting solutions to mental problems due to drug addiction, family stressors, and other mental problems that require counseling are better controlled when care is given with respect to the cultural backgrounds of the clients.
My development stage of a young adult contributed to my wrong judgment of my client. I had no experience of a different culture where men’s opinion of family matters were never to be overruled by the female members.
As a professional mental health counselor, I want to commit to put the multicultural competence I have acquired in the line of duty and endanger to be open and flexible with my clients to gain more knowledge on cultural competence.
Statement of counseling identity
My clients for mental counseling have to get a holistic healing by putting my robust theoretical knowledge, a culturally fit self and overall skills in multicultural competency.
The need for a multicultural awareness in clinical mental health counselors
According to Converse (2013), multicultural competence implies that the clinical mental health counselor approaches counseling from the perspective of the personal culture of the client. The concept is characterized by the counselor’s self-awareness, knowledge about culture and skills. The knowledge that the professional gain from the theoretical concepts and life experiences are integrated with the skills developed in practice to form a strong multicultural competency base.
Cultural competency has positive outcomes in treating the relevant clients. It works as is necessary for three areas. First, it results in a contextual understanding of the clients’ external realities. Secondly, the competency is responsible for an experiential match in the therapeutic relationship. Thirdly, it results in developing the feeling of being understood and appreciated by the health professionals (Betancourt, Green, Carrillo & Owusu, 2016).
With an unprecedented growth in the population of ethnic minority groups, counselors are left with no option but to delve in understanding several cultures to meet the upheavals and demands of the differentiated client groups (Renzaho, Romios, Crock & Sønderlund, 2013). The counselor’s awareness of their own culture forms the basis for informing the client the necessity of learning cultures not of their own, something that leads both to be responsive and respectful. The competence also assists the clinical mental counselor to develop a commitment to take all the diverse groups of clients through all the steps necessary for the holistic healing.
Betancourt, J. R., Green, A. R., Carrillo, J. E., & Owusu Ananeh-Firempong, I. I. (2016). Defining cultural competence: a practical framework for addressing racial/ethnic disparities in health and health care. Public health reports.
Converse D. (2013), Utilizing Cultural Competence In Mental Health Practice, Web. Available at https://s3.amazonaws.com/EliteCME_WebSite_2013/f/pdf/SWNJ03CC16.pdf
Renzaho, A. M. N., Romios, P., Crock, C., & Sønderlund, A. L. (2013). The effectiveness of cultural competence programs in ethnic minority patient-centered health care—a systematic review of the literature. International Journal for Quality in Health Care, 25(3), 261-269.
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