America is the greatest melting pot. Everywhere you look we are surrounded by rich and diverse cultures. Immigrants arriving in this country today are struggling to assimilate and still maintain their own individual identity. For instance, Elizabeth, my mother, was born in Italy and came to the United States when she was 11 years of age. When it was time for my mom to start school, the guidance office recommended to her foster parents remove any clothing, jewelry, or personal items that were not congruent with the American culture at that time. As I reflect on my mom’s experience, it must have been such a difficult transition not allowed to maintain her own culture identity.
Counseling a client from another culture, I believe it is the most beneficial experience in the world. My own personal theory on achieving the title of a culturally skilled counselor is to be sensitive to cultural differences of the client, while providing assistance blending into the American culture, and maintaining their own cultural identity. Counselors will require training and personal development to turn into a culturally skilled counselor. The program that I have proposed is two step processes which incorporate different components. The first step is counselor awareness and the other is client awareness.
Counselor awareness is a three step, self awareness discovery where a counselor works on establishing cultural identity, knowledge of race, and training. I call it discovery because researching a family history is a bit like being in a game of Clue. However, to make the process more simplified, begin questioning parents or grandparents about the culture. In 1991, the Association for Multicultural Awareness and Development (AMCD) introduced guidelines on the demand for more rational in working in multicultural environments.
Culturally skilled counselors have transitioned from being culturally unaware to now aware of their culture and value the differences in others (1991).
The second level of counselor awareness phase is the knowledge of race and its implications. For this is to be executed correctly, a counselor identifies with their cultures racial attitudes and how it affects them professional. This can also fall under pre-existing stereotypes that were learned from at an early age. For example, the old phrase “blondes have so much fun”. I fell victim of that catch line and colored my hair completely blonde. My level of fun did not increase during that time period.
The last level of counselor awareness is for a counselor to seek education and training to understand their own limitations when working with an individual from another culture. Instances that may arise and require a more qualified professional the AMCD recommends to refer the patient to another source. At this time, the counselor will now take on the role of a broker and manage...