Becoming a multiculturally competent counselor requires research, understanding the basics about the different populations you serve, diligence, and the ability to know your limits. Meet your clients where they are and understand that counseling a multicultural population is not a one size fits all strategy. It is about being aware of your own biases and prejudices and doing the work to overcome them so that you can be an effective professional. As much as we want to help everyone, we cannot possibly be a specialist in everything. When we meet with clients from different cultures, we must consider other aspects of their diversity as an individual that include more than what you see; such as disability, age, sexual orientation and gender, spirituality and mental illness. The term diversity has seemed over the ages to be viewed as a black or white issue, but to me understanding diversity is about being open to the experience of others that are different from you, and seeing and appreciating them for who they are. When we are able to meet a client in a place that shows no judgment, that offers unconditional positive regard, genuineness and respect, the opportunity to help them make progress can be limitless. Continue reading
If you told me last year that I would be running a half marathon on October 7, 2012 in Washington DC, I would have told you that you were crazy! Words like “I can’t, I will never be, I am just not that person” were commonplace in my vocabulary. Pity, really, when I know from experience, when I really want something I can make it happen. The only thing that stops me 99% of the time is ME.
So, it all began when my old supervisor taught a lesson one night in group. Continue reading
Love. It is the one thing in life that we all need, search for, hope for, ache for, and even sometimes in our fear – run from. John Lennon said it best, “All You Need Is Love.” Martin Luther King said, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” From a spiritual perspective, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16 NIV). The Dali Lama notes that, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
If love is essential to all aspects of life, why is it so hard to see it when it arrives before you? I recall a time when I thought all I wanted was a relationship with a man who truly loved me, yet I did many things to get in my own way, and prevent love from flourishing in my life. Continue reading
Establishing goals with a client can sometimes be one of the most difficult parts of the relationship. When working at my internship site last year, I worked with folks who were working towards self-sufficiency. Even if we explained to them that counseling is part of the program during their intake process, they quickly forgot that they “signed up” for it. When we meet an individual for the first time, they may not understand the purpose of counseling, they may think we are doing something to them. We would hear statements such as: “I just need a job” or “I just need a little support until I can get back on my feet.” The troubling fact is that a large percentage of the individuals we served had been chronically homeless or close to homelessness for a significant portion of their lives. So, the purpose of counseling for that population is to help them create healthier patterns in many aspects of their lives so they can live in a new and better way. They don’t normally come to see us with open arms, so identifying goals in a collaborative fashion could, at times, be difficult. Continue reading