Multicultural Counseling

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Multicultural Counseling

Multicultural Counseling


Multiculturalism has been defined as the fourth force in psychology, one which complements the psychodynamic, behavioral and humanistic explanations of human behavior. Some researchers defined multiculturalism as a wide range of multiple groups without grading, comparing, or ranking them as better or worse than one another and without denying the very distinct and complementary or even contradictory perspectives that each group brings with it (Gushue, 2009). One of the most important debates within the field has to do with how this definition relates to specific groups within the context of a culture. Pedersen's definition leads to the inclusion of a large number of variables, e.g., age, sex, place of residence, education, socioeconomic factors, affiliations, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, making multiculturalism generic to all counseling relationships. Some researchers advocates a narrower definition of multiculturalism, particularly as it relates to counseling (Vereen & Hill, 2008). The narrower view is one where attention is directed toward "the racial/ethnic minority groups within that culture.

Regardless of how one defines the term or the degree to which the concept is restricted or broadened in a particular context, multiculturalism encompasses a world of complex detail. four dimensions of cultures has been identified. These dimensions are:

1. Power distance the extent to which a culture accepts that power in institutions and organizations is distributed unequally.

2. Uncertainty avoidance--the extent to which members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or ambiguous situations.

3. Individualism--a social framework in which people are supposed to take care of themselves and of their immediate families only. Collectivism refers to a social framework in which people distinguish between in-groups and out-groups, expecting their in-group to look after them, and in exchange for that owe loyalty to it.

4. Masculinity/Femininity--the extent to which the dominant values within a culture are assertiveness, money and things, caring for others, quality of life, and people.

A number of generic counselor characteristics are necessary, but not sufficient, for those who engage in multicultural counseling. To be effective, a counselor must be able to:

1. Express respect for the client in a manner that is felt, understood, accepted, and appreciated by the client. Respect may be communicated either verbally or nonverbally with voice quality or eye contact (Vereen & Hill, 2008).

2. Feel and express empathy for culturally different clients. This involves being able to place oneself in the place of the other, to understand the point of view of the other.

3. Personalize his/her observations. This means that the counselor recognizes that his/her observations, knowledge, or perceptions are "right" or "true" only for him/herself and that they do not generalize to the client.

4. Withhold judgment and remain objective until one has enough information and an understanding of the world of the client.

5. Tolerate ambiguity. This refers to the ability to react to new, different, and at times, unpredictable situations with little visible discomfort or irritation.

6. Have patience and perseverance when unable to get things done immediately.

Counselors bring with them their own degree of effectiveness with these generic ...
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