The Benefits of Multicultural CounselingWhen people think of multicultural counseling, they usually picture the world as a chaotic place where everything is sliding down towards a black hole. But is that actually the case? People can be both ethnically and culturally homogeneous, yet still come from very different cultures and even have very different religious beliefs.
Multicultural counseling is about the entire community, not just about one culture. There are many questions that you will be asked when a patient comes to you with a problem. Is this person being discriminated against in their particular society? Do they have a problem with race or religion?
Some people call multicultural counselors the 'golden triangle.' These are people who help a wide variety of people, the same way that the Golden Triangle meets at the Golden Gate Bridge. The first person of the community will work closely with the diverse group and be able to offer them guidance and information that they may need.
Multicultural counselors use a variety of approaches to communicate with their clients. They may talk to them using their language, or they may use their culture as their medium. Some cultures are so linked that they might be able to understand each other better if they were speaking the same language. In a sense, that is what multicultural counseling is about.
If you do decide to go with language, make sure that you get plenty of practice in the language. Sometimes you have to be able to read a list of words in the other culture's language before you can get by with it. It will also help if you can get used to pronouncing words correctly, so that your clients will feel that you know what you are talking about.
Another approach that you may choose to use when talking to people from different cultures is to use their language in order to help them understand. For example, it is a very common and effective practice for the counselor to ask the patient what he or she does on the weekend. Sometimes people think that they are being refused the right to speak about their true interests when a counselor asks about the weekend. But the counselor is actually trying to get the patient to open up to the conversation.
This is not only true in counseling, but also in mental health. Many people do not know how to express themselves clearly and effectively, so they resort to using phrases that they learned as children. If you want to really tap into a patient's true feelings, you may want to learn how to use the language that they most commonly use. That is your personal decision and depends on your own personality and background.
The biggest problem in multicultural counseling, though, is the time needed to get all the people to agree on a treatment plan. There is not always agreement on every detail, and there may be a lot of communication lapses in the process. But if you can get everyone on the same page, then you can all start off on the same course towards finding a common ground.