Culture plays an extremely relevant role in the world of therapy. The likelihood of an individual seeking therapy, the treatment approaches used within that therapy, and the resulting treatment outcome are all connected to cultural considerations. Thus, it is not hard to understand the importance of multicultural counseling and effective multicultural counseling techniques.
What is multicultural counseling?
Multicultural counseling is what takes place when a mental health professional works with a client from a cultural background outside of his or her own. Culture can refer to, or include, factors such as gender, age, sexuality, religion, socioeconomic status, etc. Yet, it is important to understand that the presence of cultural difference between a therapist and a client is always relevant, as cultural differences almost always affect the interactions, relationship, and thus, client progress within therapy sessions.
Because of this, it is vital the therapist not only have an awareness of how culture impacts the treatment process, but also be educated on multicultural counseling techniques.
Multicultural Counseling Techniques
When working with a client from a different cultural background, a therapist may consider a variety of multicultural counseling skills including:
- Self-awareness – counselors who provide counseling to individuals outside of their own cultural background must be self-aware. Thus, it is essential for a counselor to not only understand his or her own cultural experience, but also acknowledge how it contributes to any cultural privilege, biases, prejudices, etc. Self-awareness is crucial in lessening the potential for multicultural counseling issues.
- Flexibility – successful multicultural counseling techniques often are rooted in flexibility. This means the mental health professional’s ability to recognize his or her own cultural limitations (and how they are affecting the therapeutic process), and make adjustments to meet the need(s) of the client.
- Communication – communication, both verbal and non-verbal (i.e. – body language and gestures) is one of the main factors in any therapeutic relationship. Understanding a client’s culture specific communication is crucial to providing effective counseling.
- Approach – a therapist experienced in multicultural counseling techniques will always consider the client’s attitudes, beliefs, and values when selecting a therapeutic approach or intervention.
Importance of Multicultural Counseling
The ability to be culturally knowledgeable and use effective multicultural counseling techniques both fall into the realm of ethical responsibility for a mental health professional. Recognizing the social and psychological differences that exist among the many different cultures helps eliminate generalization amongst highly diverse individuals and groups. At HPA/LiveWell, in Albany, New York, we are continually focused on improving and expanding upon our ability to provide effective interventions to all individuals.
If you are interested in seeking counseling, contact HPA/LiveWell in Albany, New York at 518-218-1118 to find out more about services and treatment options.