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Culture does control our day to day life. Any culture centered approach in professional counseling goes a long way to recognize culture to be central rather than marginal, fundamental and not necessarily exotic in the counseling interventions. The amplified modernized, urbanized and the industrialized societies as well as the breakdown of family support systems have heightened on the need for a worldwide variety of counseling methods in order to search for solutions to some of the world social problems. Sensitive and competent multicultural counselors should possess competencies that do include awareness of their cultural values, assumption and biases, understanding and awareness of their clients’ views, knowledge as well as application of some culturally effective intervention strategies and the willingness to portray an empathic understanding. This paper explores on racism attitudes, multicultural counseling, white racial identity and attitudes and multicultural competencies.
Professional counselors should come into grips with issues for example sexism, racism, social and economic class and other realities that ought not to be ignored in order for them to comprehend diversity as well as the experiences of different people who come from other diverse backgrounds. Cultural sensitivity training among counselors usually result to an open mind and being culturally aware as well as enhance on the comprehension of multiculturalism as well as the aptitude to communicate effectively with the minority groups (Basanti, Gina, Jacqueline& Barbara. 2004, pp. 161-166). Instead of counselors being ethnocentric, they should learn to respect the cultural diversity otherwise they will end up imposing standards and values that are self centered on the clients. Skilled counselors should be sensitive and always actively engaged through avoiding prejudices, discrimination and stereotyping. Though there are patent cases of cultural bias in the American psychology, most of it is done unintentionally by people who view themselves as just, moral and fair minded. The cross cultural interactions are usually confounded by divergent interpretative frameworks in which the meaning is usually attributed. There are various barriers to effectual counseling in the cross culture.
The major potential cultural bias that result to misinterpretation and conflicts in counseling comprise of culture and class bound values, divergence in emotional, verbal and behavioral expressiveness and divergence in the communication patterns (Fons & Norbert, 2004, pp. 119-135). Other sources of potential bias are maintenance of self esteem, perception, differences in language, ethnocentrism and others.
Most of the ancient psychotherapy and counseling theoretical orientations inUSAusually claim to honor inimitable characteristics of their clients but end up ignoring the psychological differential impact of the clients. Racial development ought to be considered as a major aspect by counselors when they are dealing with the white racial attitudes (Sharon, 1996, pp. 151-163).
Racial identity is theorized as the most important influence as far as racial counseling relationships are concerned. There is a significant effect that is found between counselor’s race and the white racial attitudes. Over past decades, the counseling field has emphasized on the importance of coming up with a multicultural framework in order to understand the clients and train future counselors. The unexamined cultural bias and assumptions of the white counselors at times cause them to basically view the values and behaviors of members of other ethnic groups as deviant instead of viewing it simply as different from theirs.
Helms model has focused on health white attitudes and identities that develop when the white people abandon their racist attitudes and hence move towards the nonracist identity. In her model she asserts that the whites in theUSare not socialized in the environment where members of the group are usually privileged to other racial members and hence they tend to protect this status by adopting a more racist behavior and attitude.
The relationship that is formed between a culturally divergent counselor and client has been identified to be the most crucial factor in determining if clients do engage in the entire counseling process. The white race development by Helm according to Philip (1997, pp. 207) is posited to encompass six statuses. The first is contact stage.
The whites in this stage are usually oblivious to issues of racism, lack the understanding of racism and have a less experience with the black people and always profess to be color blind. The societal influence when it comes to perpetuating stereotypes associated with the black and the white people usually go unnoticed. In order to develop a healthy white identity, then every white person even the professional counselors must overcome all aspects of racism and accept their whiteness and any cultural implications. The whites should be treated differently from other ethnic groups by helping them to develop an affirmative identity.
The white people never see themselves as whites but rather as English, Italian and others (Philip 1997, pp. 208). The major noncomiatants as far as racism and whites are concerned are usually negative feelings for example self hate, deception, shame and guilt as well as feeling bad on grounds of being white. These feelings usually contributed to some distorted feelings that contribute to distorted views.
The other is the disintegration stage where a person usually becomes conflicted over some unresolvable racial issues where the whites believe they are nonracist though they would not want to get involved with the minority groups. Whites at this stage are usually aware of their racial membership as well as experiences since they are usually treated differently from others. In the reintegration stage, the white status is usually manifested by the whites’ realization and idealization of their racial membership groups. In the pseudo independence stage, the whites usually possess an intelligent comprehension of racism as well as how they view it though they continue to have feelings of intolerance and superiority towards racial groups. Finally, in the autonomy stage, the whites get to internalize an affirmative white racial aspect and identity by refuting to impose an arbitrary racial definition on other ethnic groups but rather displaying emotional and intellectual appreciation of the racial similarities and differences (Constatine, Juby & Liang. 2001. pp. 1-11).
It is therefore imperative to understand and acknowledge all the cultures and not just the ethnic groups. Whites should not be assumed to be alike thus the counselors should understand the client’s ethnic background and the views they hold. The white counselors should learn to accept their cultural diversity in order to be in a position to help other people too. High levels of racism are usually correlated with low levels of self reported competencies as far as multicultural counseling is concerned. High disintegration racial attitudes held by the whites are usually associated with low levels of perception on multicultural counseling competencies.
As far as concepts like stress, alcohol use and drug abuse among the ethnic groups and the white population, the counselors should adopt a more holistic approach in their integration of counseling processes. This is because of the attitudes that the whites have upon themselves as superior and the ethnic minorities who have always been treated as marginalized groups thus they have never had an access to American dream as compared to the whites (Charles, 2004, pp. 616). When working with these two different cultures it is imperative to note that most people vary as far as the cultural continuum is concerned.
The blacks always claim that racism is a continuing reality in their lives and are well intentioned while the whites continue to respond to them with superiority. Since counselors are more immune to inherit biases therefore white counselors also tend to deliver some racial microaggressions during counseling sessions with the ethnic groups (Derald, Kevin, Christina et al, 2008, pp. 330-338). Counselors should deviate themselves from all the biasness, stereotypes and learn to incorporate other cultures through respecting, understanding and appreciating diversity.