How to do Multicultural Counselling ?

The American Counseling Association, “Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.”

Culture is “any group of people who identify or associate with one another on the basis of some common purpose, need, or similarity of background” (Axelson, 1999,)

Pedersen, 1990 define culture includes “ethnographic variables such as ethnicity, nationality, religion, and language, as well as demographic variables of age, gender, place of residence, etc., status variables such as social, economic, and educational background and a wide range of formal or informal memberships and affiliations.

Multicultural counseling may be viewed generally as counseling “in which the counselor and client differ” (Locke, 1990)

Two Perspectives of Multicultural counseling.

  1. Etic perspective of Multicultural counseling.– stating universal qualities exist in counseling that are culturally generalizable.
  2. Emic perspective of  Multicultural counseling. -assumes counseling approaches must be designed to be culturally specific.

History of Multicultural Counselling 

In 1973, Paul Pedersen chaired a panel on multicultural counseling at the APA’s annual convention and, with his colleagues in 1976, later published the first book specifically on the subject, ‘Counseling Across Cultures’.

The Journal of Counseling and Development  is the flagship journal of the American Counseling Association.

Multicultural counseling is often called “the fourth force” because of its growth and share in counselling following psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and humanistic concepts of counseling

An acronym model for assessing cultural components of a client: the RESPECTFUL counseling as per (D’Andrea & Daniels, 2001)

    • R = religious/spiritual issues,
    • E = economic class issues,
    • S = sexual identity issues,
    • P = psychological developmental issues,
    • E = ethnic/racial identity issues,
    • C = chronological issues,
    • T = trauma and threats to well-being,
    • F = family issues,
    • U = unique physical issues,
    • L = language and location of residence issues

Difficulties in Multicultural Counselling 

  • Measurement-  Current assessments appear to have little statistical support, Might be measuring different constructs even though they are using similar labels,
  • Overculturalizing:
  • Language
  • Racism
  • Acculturation- “the process by which a group of people give up old ways and adopt new ones”

Sue (1978a) established five guidelines for effectively counseling across cultures-

1. Counselors recognize the values and beliefs they hold in regard to acceptable and desirable human behavior. They are then able to integrate this understanding into appropriate feelings and behaviors.
2. Counselors are aware of the cultural and generic qualities of counseling theories and traditions. No method of counseling is completely culture-free.
3. Counselors understand the sociopolitical environment that has influenced the lives of members of minority groups. Persons are products of the milieus in which they live.
4. Counselors are able to share the worldview of clients and do not question its legitimacy.
5. Counselors are truly eclectic in counseling practice. They are able to use a wide variety of counseling skills and apply particular counseling techniques to specific lifestyles and experiences.

McFadden’s model is a transcultural perspective-

    1. The cultural–historical, where counselors must possess knowledge of a client’s culture;
    2. The psychosocial, where counselors must come to understand the client’s ethnic, racial, and social group’s performance, speeches, and behaviors in order to communicate meaningfully; and
    3. The scientific–ideological, where counselors must use appropriate counseling approaches to deal with problems related to regional, national, and international environments.


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