This guide provides concise and easily accessible information for behavioral health professionals about culturally competent counseling skills. Do your cultural background, where you come from, or your family have an impact on how you view yourself and the world? As counselors, our own backgrounds can influence how we interact with others. We use aspects of ourselves to support our work with clients. So, what is culturally competent counseling? Being a culturally competent counselor can involve various qualities, behaviors, and activities. A key factor is the counselor's self-awareness of their worldview.
The multicultural competencies of the American Counseling Association (ACA) states that “counselors should develop self-awareness, so they can explore their attitudes and beliefs, gain knowledge, skills and actions in relation to their self-awareness and worldview.” It is understandable that some people find it difficult to re-engage in therapy after having negative experiences in the therapeutic setting. In my experience, it is a journey for underrepresented identities to simply ask for what they feel they need in therapy. Clark states that a culturally competent therapist is someone who is sensitive to different cultural backgrounds in their office, “linguistically and socially sensitive to cultural differences, whether they are race, sexual orientation, or religious or spiritual differences,” he says. Before we delve deeper, it is worth emphasizing how beneficial it can be to find a therapist who can understand your experiences, perspectives, and references in a more profound way, specifically because of shared identity. I didn't know that most people in the world have a history, tradition and roots in religious and cultural groups. So how do you find out if a counselor has experience working with your cultural background? Here are some tips:
- Research: Look for counselors who specialize in working with people from your cultural background.
You can search online for counselors who have experience working with people from your culture or ask friends or family members for recommendations.
- Ask questions: When you meet with a potential counselor, ask them questions about their experience working with people from your culture. Ask them about their training and any special certifications they may have related to working with people from your culture.
- Be honest: Be honest about your expectations and needs when talking to potential counselors. Explain what you are looking for in a counselor and why it is important to you that they have experience working with people from your culture.
Finding a counselor who has experience working with people from your cultural background can help ensure that you receive the best possible care.