Do john’s background and experiences qualify him as a culturally competent group counselor? Why or why not?

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Do john’s background and experiences qualify him as a culturally competent group counselor? Why or why not?

John comes from an impoverished neighborhood in an eastern city, has struggled financially to get a college degree, and has finally attained a master’s degree in counseling. He is proud of his accomplishments and considers himself to be sensitive to his own background and to those who struggle with similar problems. He has moved to the west coast and has been hired to work in a high school with a culturally diverse student population.

As a high school counselor, john starts a group for at-risk adolescents. his goals for this group are as follows: (1) to instill pride so that group members will see their present environment as an obstacle to be overcome, not suffered with; (2) to increase self-esteem and to challenge group members to fight the negativism they may encounter in their home and school environments; (3) to teach group members to minimize their differences in terms of the larger community (for example, he points out how some of their idioms and ways of speaking separate them from the majority and reinforce differences and stereotypes); and (4) to teach group members how to overcome obstacles in a nonsupportive environment.

John does not work very closely with teachers, administrators, or other school counselors in the district. He views them as being more interested in politics and red tape and as giving very little energy to personal counseling in the school. He has little to do with the families of the adolescents because he sees them as being too willing to accept handouts and welfare and as not being very interested in becoming self-sufficient and independent. He tells his group members: “What you have at home with your families has obviously not worked for you. What you have in this group is the opportunity to change.”

Do john’s background and experiences qualify him as a culturally competent group counselor? Why or why not?

Answer & Explanation (1)

Answer
In John's case, he does not qualify as a culturally competent counselor since a competent counselor is able to work with clients to help

them understand themselves and their relationships more profoundly, and to use that knowledge to make stronger, healthier choices.

Basic expertise in this area includes a basic understanding of psychology and clinical theory. But the relationship with therapy is as

variable as the clients are. Cultural competence in therapy is a key factor in ensuring good results for all patients, and as the U.S. population grows more diverse, multi-cultural therapy skills are becoming a vital component of training.

Multicultural counseling skill refers to the capacity of a counselor to produce meaningful therapeutic outcomes in cross-cultural patient experiences. Cross-cultural differences can be characterized as differences between the client and the counselor in terms of race, faith, gender, income, disability or other social factors. While this is not to suggest that counselors and clients have no hope of interacting unless they share a cultural identity, it is important to understand that building trust between people from different walks of life can present barriers to therapy on both sides. John may have a clear strategy for group therapy, but he has shown that he can not work with others whose outlook is different from that of him.

John needs to gain a versatile and adaptable understanding of how therapy approaches can be applied to different students based on their cultural background. After all, even the structure of counseling is culturally inflected, which means that extra sensitivity should be shown to students or others for whom seeking help is culturally frowned upon.

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