A counselor must understand how one’s own cultural differences and worldviews impact the counseling relationship. This paper will examine how I am culturally different from my client and how I would demonstrate cultural competence. Furthermore, I will describe how I can improve my cultural competence with the client. Clients Background Information
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My client, Alberto, is a 47-year-old Mexican American who has been married to his wife, Angela, for 27 years and has four children. Alberto lost his job and their savings is limited. Angela desires to work to help provide for the family. Alberto refuses to allow his wife to work. Both seek counseling, primarily because their priest has recommended them to do so. Alberto displays resistance to counseling because he believes it is a waste of time. Cultural Differences
Counselors need to be mindful of how their own worldviews, biases, and prejudices impact the counseling relationship. By examining the Latino culture and comparing it to my own enables me to be aware of the differences and prevent me from judging and influencing my cultural worldviews on my clients. I would be respectful to their worldviews and incorporate their values in the counseling process.
Latino Cultural Worldviews. Alberto’s characteristics heavily reflect traditional Latino family values. The Latino family structure culture is mainly hierarchal, with the father the head and main provider of the household with machismo characteristics such as being dominant and strong (Sue & Sue, 2013). The mother takes on more of the caregiver role, or marianismo characteristics, and focuses on raising the children (Sue & Sue, 2013). The traditional Latino husband/father expects respect and obedience from all the family members.
Counselor’s Cultural Worldviews. I grew up in a multiracial family of four. Both my parents worked very hard, with my mother being the ‘bread winner’ of the family. This is an unusual characteristic in a military household because normally the mothers stay home since constant moving around the country complicates a woman’s career development. It is also unusual in both the Italian culture and Korean culture for the woman to be the main provider in the household. Both my parents acculturated in their own ways before marrying, and swayed from traditional values of their bloodlines. Everyone in the family had a contributing role; whether it was financially or helping around the home, everyone shared responsibility.
My parents encouraged my sister and I to work hard and strive for our dreams- whatever it was they supported us. There were no given roles in our family. Rather, our family culture carried a democracy atmosphere where we all worked and made decisions together. Cultural Differences. The main cultural difference is our family systems and the gender role expectations of father and mother. In the traditional Latino culture, the man dictates the household. Whereas in my family, roles are harder to define since my father and mother shared financial and household responsibility. Demonstrating Cultural Competence
Latinos often times disagree with gender roles. This is the case for Alberto and Angela. Alberto’s unemployment is causing strain for the family in terms of financial burden and emotional distress. Challenging the father, or machismo, opposed their traditional values. Avila and Avila (1995) and Constantine, Gloria and Baron (2006), noted that traditional Latino men struggle with gender role conflict when experiencing: (1) lack of confidence in areas of authority, (2) feelings of isolation and depression because of the need to be strong, and (3) conflicts over the need to be consistent in his role (as cited in Sue & Sue, 2013, p.413). Alberto’s openness to seek counseling is limited. In the Latino culture, counseling can be viewed as weak (Sue & Sue, 2013). Seeing as Angela wants to work to help make money for the family, conflicting views about roles and expectations has surfaced between the couple. Angela’s conflict revolves around living up to the traditional Latina expectations; meaning that she is primarily a homemaker. Also, Angela’s opinions and voice is discouraged by her Alberto in the counseling session. This demonstrates how many traditional Latinas are inferior in the marriage (Sue & Sue, 2013).
Andres-Hyman, Ortiz, Anez, Paris, and Davidson (2006), advised that counselor must look at the client’s degree of devotion to traditional gender customs (as cited in Sue & Sue, 2013, pp.413-414). As Alberto and Angela’s counselor I would explore their roles within their family and delve into how these roles may be altering and impacting the family. Also, I would address Alberto’s anxiety levels. Furthermore, I would help Angela consider the change involved with assuming a new role in the family. By addressing these issues in the couple’s cultural framework, I would hope to accomplish a understanding and possible compromise. Improving Cultural Competence with the Latino Population
Coming from an equal relationship belief, I am challenged not to favor Angela’s desire to work and contribute financially. My perspective clashes with the traditional Latino gender role expectations. I must remind myself that my beliefs are not universal and not best for everyone. One way to improve my cultural competence is to respect the traditional Latino worldview. Since Alberto is a traditional man, I would respect his values of authority and interview him briefly to demonstrate respect (Sue & Sue, 2013). Also, I understand that in a less acculturated family that I need be more formal and less casual. Reflection
Cultural competent practices are essential in the counseling profession. Developing an understanding and respect for people with differing worldviews and cultures promotes the counseling relationship. Practicing within the client’s cultural framework is necessary. Understanding one’s own culture and being mindful how it differs from others is primary. Identifying the cultural differences allows the counselor to be mindful and delineate from imposing one’s own beliefs onto the client.
Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2013). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice
(6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.