Every individual we meet has their background, gender, religion, ethnicity, and customs they adhere to. More often than not, these social and cultural elements shape our identities and circumstances in life.
Multicultural counseling takes these sociopolitical and cultural factors to give perspective to your individual experience. It works to understand that our background may play a part in the problems we face in everyday life. This approach helps us hone our understanding, acceptance, and respect for other people’s backgrounds.
What Is Multiculturalism?
Multiculturalism is often used synonymously with diversity. However, it’s important to clarify the difference between the two. Diversity refers to the existing differences between people. Multiculturalism entails a deeper understanding of these differences. It might be among individuals or within their communities.
What Is Multicultural Counseling?
Multicultural counseling refers to counseling that considers your background when giving you advice. The following are factors taken into consideration when addressing the problems you bring to the table:
- Gender and sexuality
- Social class
- Religion or spirituality
These factors impact a person’s identity, well-being, personal and social issues. Those who have experienced stigma, discrimination, and oppression may find this type of counseling helpful.
The core of multicultural counseling is counselors being aware of their client’s overall situation. They must be able to relate with the client while considering the client’s situation. The counselor should be able to establish a relationship with the client with empathy and respect.
The counselor must have a thorough understanding of their client to offer truly beneficial services. A client may find it therapeutic to learn about how their background is related to the issues they face.
What Is Multicultural Counseling’s History?
Counseling developed in the 19th century, and a multicultural approach to it only began to flourish in the mid-20th century. Moving beyond the educational setting, counseling reached women, people with disabilities, and other minorities. With the growth of the post-World War II economy, the public became more aware of the need to include people from minority groups.
In the 1980s, different groups of counselors emerged. Multicultural concerns were in the spotlight, along with gender issues, feminist theory, and cultural groups. In the 1990s, multicultural counseling standards and skillsets were established.
Presently, those in the field are researching the importance of multicultural psychology and counseling. This new research focuses on how to broaden its scope and focus. They also aim to be more inclusive of other groups and address the counselor’s needs and different client groups.
What Issues Can Multicultural Counseling Address?
A multicultural counselor considers how an individual’s issues are related to their personal and social circumstances. A few of the issues that multicultural counseling addresses are the following:
What Skills Does A Multicultural Counselor Need?
Cultural sensitivity is a significant skill that an effective multicultural counselor needs. They should know if something triggers or is too sensitive for the client. If they find something that makes a client is unwilling to proceed, they should disengage with care and caution. They might also change the topic entirely. It’s always important to be respectful of the client’s rights and feelings.
A counselor must also have cultural knowledge and awareness. They should make an effort to educate themselves on other cultures—this a headstart in understanding and respecting other ways of life.
They must also set their biases aside. It’s likely for therapists and clients not to share the same set of beliefs. But multicultural counselors should be able to set their own biases aside. Being impartial helps them provide their client with the necessary help.
It also wouldn’t hurt to be critical yet careful. Not all of a client’s problems are because of cultural or social factors. A counselor needs to be mindful of their client as a unique individual despite belonging to a certain cultural or social group.
Lastly, a counselor needs to learn how to communicate with empathy effectively. Good rapport between the two parties can build trust between them. However, with effective communication comes empathy. Multicultural counselors need to be able to put themselves in their client’s shoes. Awareness of other cultures should help therapists acknowledge individual differences and understand how these affect a person’s worldview.
What Could You Expect From Multicultural Counseling?
A therapist or counselor can conduct multicultural counseling through various techniques and approaches. Other therapies can benefit from this counseling, and it is for any age group. Furthermore, whether sessions are face-to-face or digital is not much of a problem.
The therapist needs time to know the client’s needs and be fully aware of their concerns. Once this is done, the counselor will guide their client to understand their problems. The counselor will explain the relationships they see between the problem and the client’s environment.
Establishing trust between client and therapist is a must. With this in place, both therapist and client will effectively communicate and understand each other better. Getting to know the client through time should allow the therapist to arrive at a solution. Both must then work together to implement this.
The age of globalization has certainly allowed us to be more accepting of diversity. In many situations, it is easier to focus on the differences among ourselves. We should try to focus and build more on our similarities.
Multicultural counseling is helpful when dealing with social, cultural, and political issues. This type of therapy helps us acknowledge the differences in cultures and how it forms us as individuals. We must always be understanding of these differences. We should allow multiculturalism to thrive in communities.