Abstract People of different cultures, including immigrants of today seem to differ from past generations in that they seek to retain many of their cultural values and are less interested in becoming homogenized within the U. S. culture. This distinctness can create a potentially complex situation for both the client and therapist who may differ substantially in their own cultural values. For successful therapy to take place, it is important for therapists to be culturally sensitive of clients and avoid stereotyping.
Stereotyping is detrimental to the client/therapist relationship. Therefore, to minimize the risk of misunderstanding and misinterpreting our clients we should acknowledge the influence of culture and respond respectfully to these cultural differences, values, and beliefs. This paper will define counseling and diversity and its disparities such as stereotypes and how they can be influenced from a counselor’s perspective. This paper is an expression of my current thinking regarding a theoretical perspective of counseling and diversity. Introduction
Counseling is a conversational process that can be instrumental in the development of skills that help those effectively confront and cope with uncertainties and conflicts.
Counseling is for folks who are courageously facing their fears, who want more from their life, who want to expand their lives and achieve goals both personally and professionally. It’s a relationship that builds Confidence (Edwards, 2009 p90). Counseling is where a professional will give advice, opinions or direction based on what the patient has discussed with them. In some ways, a counselor could almost be seen as a guide.
Counseling is done in an informal and comfortable environment where the patient is free to discuss what bothers them. They are free to express their feelings and emotions to someone they know are listening to them. It’s easy for people who don’t really know what counseling is to not realize there are many different types of counseling for different problems. Counseling is very much like therapy (Radcliff, 2009 p93) in that there are individual areas in which counseling focuses on. It is not simply one broad thing that one person covers. There are actually different subjects that different counselors will specialize in.
There is marriage counseling, family counseling, career counseling, mental health counseling, substance abuse counseling, debt counseling, child development counseling and grief counseling, to name a few. Diversity means differences such as different religious beliefs, different cultural traditions, music, art, dancing etc. (Patchell & Broussard,2009,p88) In the context of society and culture, diversity is usually mentioned in discussing multicultural societies. What do people from other cultures contribute when they migrate and become part of a new society.
Why should these different traditions and customs be valued? They enrich a society because they allow people to experience different thinking processes, to see that there is more than one way of approaching issues or living one’s life. Why is diversity important? Educating managers and staff on how to work effectively in a diverse environment helps the University prevent discrimination and promote inclusiveness. There is evidence that managing a diverse work force well can contribute to increased staff retention and productivity (Ogans, 2009 p91).
It can enhance the organization’s responsiveness to an increasingly diverse world of customers, improve relations with the surrounding community, increase the organization’s ability to cope with change, and expand the creativity of the organization. In addition to contributing to these business goals, diversity can contribute to goals unique to the University as a public institution, such as increased accessibility and accountability to all residents of the state. Cultural Norms and Differences Cultural norms are behavior patterns that are typical of specific groups.
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