Racial and Ethnic disparity among counsellors has since made it difficult for the therapist to offer help to the minorities such as African Americans, Caucasians and even women in American societies. Different populations see counselling as only for the seriously troubled, which suggests the need to address the small concepts that require attention in diverse populations during counselling. Often diverse counselling is essentially an approach that includes the historical oppressions and their effects in modern society. There is a need to understand the background influence and how different worlds and societies view the minority and thereby change to accommodate such perspectives. A counsellor who values diversity in their practice can do so because they acknowledge their individuals’ distinct abilities and skills and work to develop those talents and accomplishments.
Ethnic diversity involves a broader range of issues than just cultural variety. Various diverse cultural components exist among ethnic groupings. This paper, therefore, aims at assessing the concept of counselling in diverse populations by assessing the current trends and the analysis of the practice, including psychologists and mental health practitioners. A diverse population, in this case, involves people in different living conditions, health conditions, different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientation and even people with disabilities.
In recent years, psychology education, inquiry, and practice have broadened to embrace a wide range of identities, including gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and more. The history of counselling may be traced to tribal times when individuals gather in groups to relate their stories and occasionally their aspirations. As civilisation progressed, religion began to provide counselling, mainly in the clergy, who would listen to congregants’ concerns and provide advice. To comprehend the origins of counselling, we must first acknowledge that people have sought solace in expressing their concerns or recounting their stories to others across history. The classic adage “a trouble expressed is a trouble halved” expresses a basic human fact: when circumstances become rigid, or we have to face life choices, we often want somebody to listen and “hear our tale” to understand our alternatives better.
The development of psychology is based chiefly on white men’s beliefs Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes). Early psychological views revolved upon well-known topics such as free will and structuralism. While these initial ideologies are still crucial to psychology today, they have been developed upon and explored extensively, paving the way for additional research fields on the subject. As psychiatric ideas grew in complexity, so did the program’s diversity of identities. Consequently, more women joined the profession of psychology, taking with them fresh studies that broadened the study’s scope. Cultural discrepancies have since navigated their way into the behavioural study until the development of Social-Cultural Psychology since the 1930s. This field investigates how sociocultural factors impact people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. Both the ideas of psychology and the people who practice it have become much more diversified in recent years.
As of 2015, 86 percent of psychiatrists in the U. S. were white, according to The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (2021). However, in the United States, 5% of therapists were Asian, 5%- Hispanic, and just 4% Black. The discrepancy in the psychology profession becomes obvious when contrasted to the overall racial distribution in the United States (62 percent white to 38 per cent non-white). However, early evidence suggests that the discipline is growing increasingly diverse, with 34% of early professional psychologists reporting as ethnic minorities in 2015.
Why is diversity is vital in counselling
During patient appointments, therapists should avoid reinforcing socioeconomic standards. Instead, they can tailor their approach to each client’s specific requirements, relying on cultural competency and intercultural communicative principles to guide their work.
For instance, a person with financial difficulties seeks assistance from a psychologist who was raised into luxury and has never struggled to pay their rent or feed their family. Suppose the counsellor informs the patient that money problems are simple to solve and proposes borrowing money cash from their parents. In that case, the individual will have few realistic alternatives for managing stress and other difficulties that accompany financial difficulty. It’s difficult for therapists to provide a solution to assist their patients if they do not even comprehend their histories.
Cultural competency is vital because psychologists and therapists will be incapable of counselling someone with a diverse viewpoint than their own without it. To show headway with their clients, psychologists must build relationships. Clients may be dealing with family troubles, despair, stress, or other mental illness and social concerns. The therapeutic approach would be limited without a relationship based on mutual understanding.
Acquiring the correct skill set that allows therapists to fulfil the particular requirements of their patients is an integral part of earning cultural competency and being a multicultural counsellor. Multicultural therapy includes several essential elements often acquired via education and professional experience. The capacity to bond with some other person on a conscious level is a crucial talent for all counsellors. Communication skills, such as hearing, replying, and asking insightful inquiries, are crucial social skills. Counsellors and psychiatrists must be interested and sensitive to their clients, enquiring respectfully and conscientiously about their histories, opinions, experiences, and emotions. They must be capable of reading body language and choosing whether to proceed with a line of questions or revisit it later.
Major trends in counselling diverse population
We live in a diverse society. To counsel ethically and effectively, we must be mindful of how diversity and difference impact our clients, our profession, our own lives and the therapeutic relationships we form with clients. This understanding helps us navigate and work with the challenges and benefits that inevitably exist within a diverse society. Diversity is often understood to refer to distinct differences between individuals in a group of people or a society.
Counselling, as argued, needs a diverse range of perspectives to continue to develop. That is achievable if counsellors go outside of their regular frame of reference and adopt a more global viewpoint. All areas of counselling are fraught with difficulties, as we must constantly strive to involve both empathies for the circumstances of others and the recognition that their perspective of those experiences may be vastly different from our experience. It has been suggested that the brain is programmed to “take the easy path” when interpreting the world surrounding, according to Einstein (2015), whenever practicable. This makes it highly possible to slip into the fallacy of assuming that everybody perceives and similarly feels existence. The process of breaking free from this habit is challenging, but knowing how to do so is a crucial component of what is thought to be an intercultural awareness program is attempting to accomplish.
The most significant problem in becoming multiculturally knowledgeable involves delving on a narrower racial lens that focuses entirely on the concerns and challenges affecting African American clientele. Counselling has become a concept that is slowly evolving. More groups seek therapy in the modern day; such groups include LGBTQs, people with disabilities, among other clients. Today’s biggest challenge is moving from viewing such individuals as stereotypical rather than considering their challenges based on culture on a broader perspective, including geopolitical boundaries. There is a need to address the concept of diverse counselling from a conceptual approach instead of utilizing specific subjects or rather groups of people. People need to learn and understand that everyone deserves a right to be understood based on their culture and context of living.
Diversity in counselling has since trickled down to be a menace to the minority blacks today in various ways. For instance, someone unrelated to the problems a client is presenting may find it helpful to chat with them about components of their heritage or beliefs that they are having trouble with. However, to develop intercultural competency as a core notion for effective counselling practice, it is self-evident that counsellors have put out the substantial effort. Examples include a profusion of books and research papers available on various aspects of intercultural competence and how to develop them.
We still cannot grasp how to assess intercultural competence in ways other than subjective self-report techniques, which is a shame since we have made great strides in recent years. However, approaches for objectively measuring the behaviours linked with intercultural competence are becoming more important as the profession progresses. For example, to monitor clients’ and practitioners’ actions in cross-cultural contexts and explore the portion to which these behaviour patterns represent intercultural competence.
Multiculturalism’s long-term viability is dependent on the development of effective cross-cultural skill acquisition for counselling professionals and students. The significance of intercultural awareness in psychology schooling has been emphasized consistently throughout history. This includes acknowledging privilege, understanding the various ideologies that exist, identity growth, the significance of social justice, and generally aiding students in gaining knowledge to see outside their view of reality. Coaching on how to communicate with, learn from, and politely critique multi-cultural clients, on the other hand, has remained neglected since then. Learning to begin a dialogue with a culturally varied client to discover and develop from their distinct viewpoint, rather than depending on learned cultural preconceptions, may be quite beneficial.
However, we feel that our research in nonverbal remedial skill acquisition is just a fragment of what is feasible and that we must address this issue in other ways. We may be able to use some of the wonderful skill-based work that is undoubtedly being done in professional educational programmes around the country in the near future to build and showcase the skills that are required for intercultural competence.
What are the barriers to diverse counselling?
The presence of diversity and variation in the therapeutic connection might provide difficulties in the therapeutic connection and may present hurdles to communicating. The following are sources of potential problems:
A lack of understanding of the client’s cultural background – There may be situations in which a client wants to discuss attitudes, traditions, or cultural allusions that the therapist does not understand well. The psychotherapist must not depend on the patient to enlighten them when the therapist lacks cultural expertise. Participating in career guidance geared toward working with specific client factions is beneﬁcial, and it is also essential to mention that we are not all-knowing– establishing a positive therapeutic rapport with a client is enough to allow for in-depth exploration without having to comprehend all of the entries and breakaways of the client’s ethnic background is often sufficient. Another option is for a client to seek the services of a psychotherapist who they believe would be a good cultural fit or who specializes in difficulties linked to specific cultures. When it comes to therapy, we put our faith in the client’s capacity to independently choose the path to assist their development best.
Availability of therapy facilities – Not all facilities are available to all clients. As a result, there might be a natural, tangible barrier to communication. According to the BACP Ethical Framework, we must “make changes to resolve issues to openness, to the extent that this is reasonably achievable, for clients of any capacity seeking to interact with a service” for customers of any ability.
Communication: Translators may be required for people for whom English is not their first dialect and individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing who seek to receive counselling services. In addition to the necessary modifications to nondisclosure agreements to involve the translator, there is the chance of less fluid information exchange between client and therapist as well as the likelihood that some interpretation may be ‘misinterpreted,’ particularly subtle nuances of phrasing and insistence, as a result of the use of translators. There are specialized services available for individuals with communication problems, including multilingual therapists and psychologists who are likely to cope closely with deaf and hard of hearing patients using multiple languages, as well as sign language interpreters.
What do we need?
For a varied society, there is a need for the notion of equality, respect, and justice to be respected. Equality is the notion that every individual should be handled equally and fairly. This is an essential principle for the guidance and counselling profession to promote at all levels. The BACP Ethical Framework stresses that we have the responsibility to exhibit equality and appreciate diversity in all dealings with clients. Still, we also need to preserve these principles about our coworkers (Jenkins, 2017). (Jenkins, 2017). This goes to counselling agencies academic institutions too. Understanding inclusion and fairness in counselling draws on the ethical ideals of respect and fairness, as highlighted by Jenkins (2017). (2017).
Respect implies that counsellors must constantly display equality inclusiveness, embrace diversity and guarantee that all clients are safe (Jenkins, 2017). (Jenkins, 2017). Justice similarly aims to present a fair and unbiased treatment to help in ensuring there is a higher standard and legal minimum (Jenkins, 2017). (Jenkins, 2017). The notion of diversity and inclusiveness during therapy is crucial as it helps acknowledge that we are distinct in our personalities. Everyone in the universe needs to be handled distinctively to feel positive and react positively.
Counsellors have to stay current with the ever-changing needs of multiculturalism. Diversity has to be integrated with counselling, care delivery, and mental health programs(Brown, 2012). (Brown, 2012). as the seasons go on, the population of individuals statistics are expanding, and the profession cannot disregard the varied demographics. For example, there will be increasing numbers of individuals who self-identify as LGBTQ: a wider variety of family structures and housing options; and rises in the number of individuals living with chronic diseases and disabilities (Awais & Yali, 2015). (Awais & Yali, 2015).
Minority communities are constantly expanding as well. With diverse populations come with linguistic challenges are worries. The proportion of minorities who pursue quality health care will be reduced due to communication obstacles. According to the American Psychological Association, the following are some of how demographic shifts influence health psychology: More culturally sensitive health psychologists are needed, and demographic shifts will result in increased racial and social health inequities in the future. Given the diverse demographics of the population served, behavioural science quality service will have to be more innovative.
Aspects of professional development that will equip them to cope with diversity can include developing skills in some form throughout the lessons. Another difficulty in rehabilitative counselling is the scarcity of individuals of colour in the faculties of academic institutions. If practitioners can learn from a diverse cohort of faculty members, it is possible that learning about multiculturalism will have a more significant effect. In the mental and emotional environment, people from various cultural and individual belief systems, values, and life experiences contribute a variety of perspectives, values, and life events that assist both psychologists and their clients (brown, 2012; Sue et al., 2019). In contrast, managing a broad department is critical in fostering an atmosphere that is more favourable to assisting clients in developing an increased knowledge of their ethical obligations as counsellors from a diverse cultural and social justice viewpoint (Lane et al., 2012)
We all have inherent biases, and we may make presumptions about our clients predicated on their qualities, histories, and even their appearances at some point in our careers. When we make assumptions about ourselves due to our past or introjected ideals, it may create issues or even undermine the therapeutic relationship if these preconceptions are not explored and scrutinized. Therefore, it is critical that, as part of our personal growth, we attempt to recognize the assumptions and ideas we have about uniqueness and diversity and be conscious of how these basic assumptions may affect the way we engage with counselling clients. When dealing with people who are different from us, monitoring and a continual cycle of self-reflection are essential for creating and sustaining professionalism and nourishing our therapeutic communication.
Intercultural competence involves realizing that culture is more than skin colour or physical attractiveness. Culture refers to the way of life, typically impacted by someone’s upbringing, environment, social circles, hobbies, and experiences. Therefore, intercultural competence is a two-way lane: Not only do psychologists and counsellors need to be considerate of other people’s beliefs, but they need to be reflective and focus through their own, evaluating how their events have affected their perspective.
Counsellors and psychologists must be cautious when engaging with sensitive information themes. If their clients are hesitant to address some things, particularly initially, psychologists and therapists must accommodate their desires and go on a new path. Respecting others’ sentiments is vital to help individuals open up and respond to therapy treatments. Psychologists and therapists have a fundamental quality of subtlety and sensitivity, treating all potentially upsetting situations with utmost care. Clinical psychologists must equip themselves by being more aggressive in their study about the particular community populations they work with. Because psychologists are not as aware of culture as they should, the general public is more prone to disregard their recommendations.
Awais, Y. J., & Yali, A. M. (2015). Efforts in increasing racial and ethnic diversity in the field of art therapy. Art Therapy, 32(3), 112-119.
Brown, L. (2012). Cultural diversity and its importance to the field of counseling.
Einstein, A. (2015). Thinking about Thinking–Developing your Strategic Foresight muscles. Strategic Foresight: Learning from the Future, 44.
Jenkins, P. (2017). Professional Practice in Counselling and Psychotherapy: Ethics and the Law. Sage.
Lane, F. J., Shaw, L. R., Young, M. E., & Bourgeois, P. J. (2012). Rehabilitation counselors’ perceptions of ethical workplace culture and the influence on ethical behavior. Rehabilitation Counseling Bulletin, 55(4), 219-231.
Sue, D. W., Sue, D., Neville, H. A., & Smith, L. (2019). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. John Wiley & Sons.
The Chicago school of professional psychology. (2021, December 28). The history and importance of diversity in psychology: The Chicago School. Insight Digital Magazine. Retrieved March 8, 2022, from https://www.thechicagoschool.edu/insight/psychology/the-history-and-importance-of-diversity-in-psychology/