Defining Multicultural Counseling

It may sound simplistic, but multicultural counseling is defined as what occurs when the professional counselor works with a client from a different cultural group and how that might  affect interactions that take place within the counseling relationship. This definition is expanded to include dissimilarities in religion and spirituality, sexual orientation, gender, age and maturity, socioeconomic class, family history, and even geographic location. The first step in effective multicultural counseling is to identify and acknowledge these differences between the counselor and client.

Identifying Cultural Differences

One of the first steps in working with clients is to discuss what brings a person into counseling and to identify the presenting problem. The typical Western style of finding answers through a direct approach is not compatible with many cultures. This technique includes use of body language, eye contact, and using open-ended questions. Asian Americans, for instance, typically experience this method as impolite. Native Americans also feel this directness to be too invasive. Recognizing and being sensitive to cultural differences is essential for establishing the trust necessary to conduct effective counseling sessions.

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