Managing Cultural Prejudice in a Counselling Situation.

I think it is extremely important to be respectful of any ones  background, but to be respectful of your own as well. Respect and Trust go both ways. I think it is important to be aware that each culture has a different method of dealing with things. And some things that would be socially acceptable in one culture may not be in another. For example, when I talk to someone I always will look them in the eye and hold eye contact, this is socially accepted where I am from while if dealing with some other cultures it is considered rude to look someone in the eye.

It can be hard to work with people of other cultures because of a bias that is not only from an occurrence in your generation but one that happened many generations previous. Different cultures explain things differently for example the wars and invasions of one culture to another will have a different interpretation. For example you ask a Israeli and a person who has been displaced about the conflict in the middle east you will get two very different answers.

For this circumstance where you are dealing with a person of a cultural background different to yours that may have clashed and caused unrest in the culture it is important to remove that bias from yourself when dealing with it. I think a good method for any counselling practioner is to think of them as being from a similar culture as yourself, the problem with that is that you may forget the cultural difference of things that are not acceptable. When dealing with someone who has a stereotype it is important to not let it affect your judgement. If they, as a client, wish to discuss matters to which you have a strong view on such as wars, it is important to let them speak their mind and not interrupt.

It is important not to interrupt or influence them with your own opinions when dealing with a counselling situation regardless of what culture the client is from. The client needs time to form words and express how they feel, in this pause I wouldn’t advise speaking or asking more questions until they have finished.

To deal with prejudice of both the client and the practitioner it is important that it is handled in a respectful manner.  The prejudice needs to be removed from the situation, this can occur through talking it out with the other person on both ends of the stick.  It would not surprise me that previous experience with a ‘stereotypical’ type can influence the whole feeling towards a culture but in a setting when the need for trust and respect is important both parties need to remove the bias opinions of their culture in order to move forward. As the practitioner it is their job to compromise with the client, if the client wants to discuss something that the practitioner is aware he or she will not be able to counsel objectively, this is the time for a referral.

Otherwise in my opinion that the practitioner will be the one to deal and not allow bias to interfere with the counselling aims and goals. I believe that if I was faced with a situation where the client help different opinions and values to me because of a cultural difference , I think that I would be able to be objective about the situation if something ‘sensitive’ was to come up. Aside from a few different culturally acceptable things I don’t feel it would be all that different. Both parties need to be aware what is mutually acceptable. For example, putting your feet on the coffee table, it isn’t acceptable in some families but in others it is deemed ok. These little things can affect the whole system so it is important to let both people know if something is not acceptable in a non-aggressive manner.

I like to think I am a person relatively free form cultural bias but I have been raised on stories of history and old tales. This makes me not so much free from bias as I once thought, as the cultures in those stories I developed opinions about at a young age.
Dealing with people of a different background to you is a lot easier as a kid, there really are no differences, but I think once all parties are older it makes way to each person’s own bias due to interactions with people of other backgrounds or lack of interaction that forms the prejudice.

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