Cultural Considerations

Counselors strive to create an environment where their clients feel comfortable and safe to discuss their issues. Taking into consideration how culture impacts the ability to build a trusting relationship, what are three factors or specific aspects of diversity that counselors should consider when working with clients from a different culture, who are of a different gender than you, or who are LGBT? Comment on two of your peers’ considerations that are different from the ones you discussed.

After answering above questions, below are 2 peers that also answered same question, comment on their post. Keep it positive, do not disagree. When replying (reply starting Hi (Students Name,) then continue.

STUDENT 1- Sandra McQuillan-Dodd
The three factors or specific aspects of diversity that counselors should consider when working with clients from a different culture, different gender, or who are LGBT are:

  1. Be aware of the client’s specific needs related to gender and/or culture. When working with clients who are not of the same gender as you, a clinician should be aware of the fundamental differences as well as the similarities in the genders. When working with those from a different culture, it is important to be aware of any religious, cultural, or familial restrictions the client may have, for example, if a man in a specific culture does not believe in or feel comfortable trusting a woman counselor, you should respect this and refer the client to a counselor that he will be comfortable with and will be able to openly develop a relationship with. When working with LGBT clients, it is imperative that the counselor accommodate their specific gender identity and refer to them as they wish to be referred.
  2. Be educated on the appropriate terms and definitions used by the client’s culture or community. This is especially important for those working with the LGBT community. There are many terms that are used that the clinician may not be aware of and will need to familiarize themselves with prior to meeting with the client. The clinician must do everything that they can to make the client comfortable expressing who they are and not feeling judged by and misconceptions or misunderstanding that the clinician has.
  3. Be aware of special needs or requirements of your client. An example of a special need that may not be considered by clinicians is childcare. There are many clients out there that do not get any help at all because they do not have care for their children. There are also clients who do not receive or seek care because they fear losing their children. These fears are substantial and should be considered. Another example would be if your client has physical or psychological issues that prevent them from into a typical office setting. Perhaps they have a DUI and do not have a license and cannot get themselves to treatment, or they do not have access to transportation. I am not suggesting that you put in a day care or hire a driver for all of your clients, but it is important to be aware of special circumstances that could inhibit an addict from getting the treatment that they so desperately need.

STUDENT 2- Ryan Donelan
Hi Everyone,
I really enjoyed this section of the text. It is so important when working with clients from different cultural backgrounds to be considerate. No one approach is by any means a “one size fits all”. Considering all the different factors that play a part in a persons life and the substance use/abuse can make the difference between a clients success or failure, in my opinion.
Some important things to consider when working with transgender clients are that they most likely have suffered from social discrimination in many ways, unlike other clients. Educational, employment and housing discrimination all may have played a part in this persons life and have a tremendous effect on their substance use issue. There is a high suicide rate for these clients as well which I think is something that needs close attention.
Considerations for both male and female clients should be made as well. As I mentioned above, there is no one treatment approach or model that you can use on every person and expect the same or similar rate of success. People just don’t work that way. Men and Women are different and in many cases may need different things that the other to find success in recovery from substance use. For example, one thing to consider is the widely used 12 step program alcoholics anonymous. This program, though it has helped many women as far as I know, was founded by 2 men from a particular socioeconomic background and is focused on powerlessness. Though this might be helpful for some men, a woman coming in to this program that has, for example, experienced physical, emotional or sexual abuse or has experienced discrimination or oppression because she is a woman, may actually get the opposite of what she needs out of the program. She may already feel powerless, in which case to push that even more could have a very negative effect. Oppression, sexism and abuse all need to be considered.
All clients, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, ect. should be treated with sensitivity. Likewise, the LGBTQ community should be treated with particular sensitivity as well. Treating with respect and sensitivity is very important here. History of discrimination, feelings of shame, and stigma’s should all be carefully considered when trying to help these clients. Also, paying attention to your own knowledge and learning about the myths versus the realities of these communities is also very important to consider.
Thank you

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