This explanation of why ethnically different clients find mainstream counseling unhelpful has equal relevance to other client differences such as gender, sexual preference and disability. The central message is clear - caution needs to be exercised when applying mainstream approaches to diverse groups of clients. Implications for practice Because a multicultural approach to counseling is relatively new, the implications for practice are still being developed. There is some agreement, however, that whilst maintaining the integrity of the distinctive new approach, multicultural counseling should strive to select and build on the best of current counseling practice. Sue et al (1995, p633) developed a `conceptual framework for cross-cultural competencies’, which can help with this. It consists of a three by three matrix in which it is claimed most cross-cultural skills can either be organized or developed. A selection of skills, techniques and strategies are presented, below, within the framework developed by Sue and Sue (1995), who identified the competencies required by the culturally skilled counselor as being: Awareness of own assumptions, values and biases; Understanding the world view of the culturally different client; Developing appropriate intervention strategies and techniques. Increasing self-awareness Many writers in the area of multicultural counseling advocate the need for all practitioners to start on a continual process of multicultural self-awareness. The first task is to think about yourself; The second to identify the values of the dominant culture in which you practice counseling or communication; The third is to examine alternative value orientations.
Bimrose (1998) discusses more fully exercises and schema, which have been developed to assist with this type of self-examination. For example, Locke (1992, p2) suggests that practitioners work through the following questions: What is my cultural heritage? What was the culture of my parents and my grandparents? With what cultural group(s) do I identify? What is the cultural relevance of my name? What values, beliefs, opinions and attitudes do I hold that are consistent with the dominant culture? Which are inconsistent? How did I learn these? How did I decide to become a practitioner? What cultural standards were involved in the process? What do I understand to be the relationship between culture and counseling? What unique abilities, aspirations, expectations, and limitations do I have that might influence my relations with culturally diverse individuals? If you are able to compare your answers to some or all of these questions with others, then the effectiveness of the learning process is likely to be increased. All the questions have value, though the second question often has most impact, perhaps because it highlights the extent to which the cultural conventions surrounding the naming system of the dominant society are taken for granted by acculturated members of that society.
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