In this blog I want to discuss the importance of a multicultural approach to clinical counselling.
I have been extremely fortunate to get the benefit of exposure to a culturally diverse clientele. As a matter of fact, I can pride myself for gradually developing a multicultural professional lens. As a clinical counsellor practicing in the widely diverse lower Mainland of British Columbia, I feel extremely honoured to work with clients who identify with various cultures. Each cultural background brings a wealth of resourcefulness, strength, and resilience. Surprisingly, I believe that my experience has really helped me not only to support my clients in their therapeutic journey; but also to better understand my own cultural identity. I also witness the universality of our suffering, needs and yearnings as a human species regardless of any superficial differences.
I am extremely grateful because this scope of work has acted as a continuous reminder for ongoing self exploration of my personal biases and preconceptions. It has also encouraged me to put in additional efforts to educate myself and expand my knowledge about the nuances of the various cultures I cross paths with. Nonetheless, the ultimate outcome for such endeavours is growing sensitivity to work with my clients towards holistic, ethical and appropriate therapeutic progress. Although I perceive “cultural competence” as an elusive goal; aspiring to enhance our sensitivity will definitely pave the way for more authentic and less judgemental therapy. I believe that coming from a place of sincere intentions to learn and understand our clients’ background, worldviews and values; strengthens our empathy towards clients’ perceived pain, trauma, and/or injustice. With this in mind, this journey needs to begin from the inside. To improve cultural agility you need to begin with yourself; understand your own worldviews, values and beliefs.
As counsellors we need to become cognizant of our own intersectionality; gender, religion, ethnicity, geographical connections and affiliations, sexual orientations, socioeconomic background and past and present status, as well as socio-political views. We need to be curious about our own experiences of discriminatory practices that might consciously or unconsciously impact our views and prejudices. Nothing comes from the void! Our beliefs and values are our own operating systems that need to be unveiled, identified and willingly processed. In order to improve multicultural sensitivity and get a real sense of our clients’ struggles we need to understand their life challenges and their impact on their cultural groups. Only then can we claim that we can work from an appropriate, holistic, ethical perspective.
Ola is a Registered Clinical Counsellor offering a holistic approach to healthy relationships, life transformation and fulfillment.