Have you ever heard someone use a “color-blind” reference when the topic of cultural differences comes up? The idea that we are all the same that speaks to our shared humanity, regardless of our biopsychosocial characteristics; while this is true at some level, on other levels the idea that a counselor or therapist could take a “color-blind” approach to counsel is problematic. While the intention may be to focus on equality and all that we hold in common as people, the danger is in failing to recognize and account for the impact of our biopsychosocial characteristics on our experiences. Identity is a complex phenomenon and each one of us possesses a range of biopsychosocial characteristics such as gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, and cognitive and physical abilities that impact how we view ourselves and how we are viewed. In fact, aspects of our identity such as being able-bodied, young, or straight may result in automatic or unearned privileges. And, at the same time, other aspects of our identity such as being brown, female, or Jewish may result in our marginalization.
The Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies (MCSJCC, 2015) presents a conceptual framework that calls attention to “the intersection of identities and the dynamics of power, privilege, and oppression that influence the counseling relationship” (p. 3). As you become familiar with these competencies, you will want to consider areas for development you are eager to explore, as well as areas for development that you may feel hesitant about or even resistant to considering. Your site supervisor at Riverbend City has pointed out to you the importance for counseling and therapy interns to really take an opportunity to honestly examine these areas of personal awareness.
Part 1: Personal Reflection
For this part of the discussion:
- Consider your own biopsychosocial characteristics and how more visible or salient aspects of your identity have resulted in experiences of affirmation or marginalization.
- Reflect on your reaction to exploring the impact of your biopsychosocial characteristics on your own and your family’s experience (for example, what feelings come up as you consider the ways in which you have been privileged or marginalized?).
Part 2: MAKSS Reflection
- Discuss the experiences you have lived. Referencing the results from the MAKSS and the MCSJCC, explain what this means for your development of awareness, knowledge, and skill (referencing the MCSJCC).
- Explain which perspective of cognitive, emotional, and behavioral resistance aligns most with your reactions to exploring diversity topics?
- It may be helpful to refer to the three possible areas of resistance in multicultural training identified by Sue and Sue (2016): cognitive resistance, emotional resistance, and behavioral resistance.
- Discuss the implications of emotional reactions in clinical practice and identify at least two of the strategies for managing emotional reactions that will be important to your professional development.
Respond to the posts of at least two other learners.
In your response:
- Address your peers’ experiences and how those may relate to your own experiences with privilege or marginalization on the basis of your own biopsychosocial characteristics.
- Discuss your common ground as counselors or therapists-in-training and share at least one strategy with your peer that could be helpful in managing emotions that may arise in the course of multicultural training.
- Also, share how you plan to contribute to a climate of respectful exploration and support in discussions that will involve diverse worldviews and experiences.
Your responses should be substantive and should contribute to the conversation by asking questions, respectfully debating positions, and presenting supporting literature relevant to the topic.
This activity will help you achieve the following learning components:
- Discuss insights from an assessment of one’s multicultural awareness.
- Recognize challenges encountered in cultivating self-awareness and developing cultural competence.