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The Focus On Cultural Competency In The Social Work Profession

2144 words - 9 pages

The focus of social work practice can be best described as a pendulum, with major theoretical shifts occurring in accordance with, among many things, social climate, funding, and federal and state legislation. Thus, incorporating concepts of cultural competency into the clinical setting has been an evolutionary process. The focus on cultural competency in the social work profession has developed from a trend, to what is now regarded as an academic knowledge base and professional standard (Bridge, Massie & Mills, 2008). The nineties marked a shift towards multicultural and cultural diversity competency, it is still a fairly novel concept….. In many instances discussions on cultural competency have been broached by non-social work professionals and in terms of multicultural therapy and counseling (Lu, Lum & Chen, 2001). With the client population becoming a more expansive group in terms of socioeconomic level, race, gender identification, and sexual orientation, it is imperative that clinicians engaged in cross-cultural work conduct ongoing “self-inventories,” and be involved in collaborative discussions with their agency in regards to cultural competency. The following paper will be a perspective on my conception of cultural competency as a clinical social worker in an agency setting.
McPhatter (1997) defines cultural competency as the ability to bring cultural awareness and understanding into “health and/or psychosocial interventions that support and sustain healthy client-system functioning within the appropriate cultural context (pg.261).” Akin to many of my peers, I am inclined to envision myself upon graduation as a self-aware, knowledgeable, enthusiastic clinician capable of servicing all kinds of clients without prejudices, biases, or reservations. However, it is my belief that the basis of becoming a culturally competent clinician is recognition and acceptance, determining that you are not free of such impulses, and acknowledging their existence in both the professional and personal context. It is also important to mention that some scholars challenge the very idea of being a “culturally competent” professional, maintaining that the concept itself is flawed (Dean, 2001). I chose to have a more hopeful outlook; establishing a culturally competent practice is dependent on your willingness to accept your strengths, inadequacies, and most of all--assuming the task of continued learning.
The majority of social work professionals are employed in human service organizations (Gibelman & Furman, 2008) where the client population is either voluntary or involuntary, referred, or perhaps even mandated to receive services. In spite of how, or why, the client arrives to your agency there are a number of things to consider when working cross-culturally. As a social work clinician realizing a culturally competent practice there are many concepts I would be aware of, such as, the intersectionality of identities, the collaborative client and worker...

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