AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies

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1 AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies A. Attitudes and Beliefs I. Counselor Awareness of Own Cultural Values and Biases 1. Culturally skilled counselors believe that cultural self-awareness and sensitivity to one's own cultural heritage is essential. 2. Culturally skilled counselors are aware of how their own cultural background and experiences have influenced attitudes, values, and biases about psychological processes. 3. Culturally skilled counselors are able to recognize the limits of their multicultural competency and expertise. 4. Culturally skilled counselors recognize their sources of discomfort with differences that exist between themselves and clients in terms of race, ethnicity and culture. B. Knowledge 1. Culturally skilled counselors have specific knowledge about their own racial and cultural heritage and how it personally and professionally affects their definitions and biases of normality/abnormality and the process of counseling. 2. Culturally skilled counselors possess knowledge and understanding about how oppression, racism, discrimination, and stereotyping affect them personally and in their work. This allows individuals to acknowledge their own racist attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. Although this standard applies to all groups, for White counselors it may mean that they understand how they may have directly or indirectly benefited from individual, institutional, and cultural racism as outlined in White identity development models. 3. Culturally skilled counselors possess knowledge about their social impact upon others. They are knowledgeable about communication style differences, how their style may clash with or foster the counseling process with persons of color or others different from themselves based on the A, B and C, Dimensions,and how to anticipate the impact it may have on others. C. Skills 1. Culturally skilled counselors seek out educational, consultative, and training experiences to improve their understanding and effectiveness in working with culturally different populations. Being able to recognize the limits of their competencies, they (a) seek consultation, (b) seek further training or education, (c) refer out to more qualified individuals or resources, or (d) engage in a combination of these. 2. Culturally skilled counselors are constantly seeking to understand themselves as racial and cultural beings and are actively seeking a non racist identity. A. Attitudes and Beliefs II. Counselor Awareness of Client's Worldview 1. Culturally skilled counselors are aware of their negative and positive emotional reactions toward other racial and ethnic groups that may prove detrimental to the counseling relationship.

2 They are willing to contrast their own beliefs and attitudes with those of their culturally different clients in a nonjudgmental fashion. 2. Culturally skilled counselors are aware of their stereotypes and preconceived notions that they may hold toward other racial and ethnic minority groups. B. Knowledge 1. Culturally skilled counselors possess specific knowledge and information about the particular group with which they are working. They are aware of the life experiences, cultural heritage, and historical background of their culturally different clients. This particular competency is strongly linked to the "minority identity development models" available in the literature. 2. Culturally skilled counselors understand how race, culture, ethnicity, and so forth may affect personality formation, vocational choices, manifestation of psychological disorders, help seeking behavior, and the appropriateness or inappropriateness of counseling approaches. 3. Culturally skilled counselors understand and have knowledge about sociopolitical influences that impinge upon the life of racial and ethnic minorities. Immigration issues, poverty, racism, stereotyping, and powerlessness may impact self esteem and self concept in the counseling process. C. Skills 1. Culturally skilled counselors should familiarize themselves with relevant research and the latest findings regarding mental health and mental disorders that affect various ethnic and racial groups. They should actively seek out educational experiences that enrich their knowledge, understanding, and cross-cultural skills for more effective counseling behavior. 2. Culturally skilled counselors become actively involved with minority individuals outside the counseling setting (e.g., community events, social and political functions, celebrations, friendships, neighborhood groups, and so forth) so that their perspective of minorities is more than an academic or helping exercise. A. Beliefs and Attitudes III. Culturally Appropriate Intervention Strategies 1. Culturally skilled counselors respect clients' religious and/ or spiritual beliefs and values, including attributions and taboos, because they affect worldview, psychosocial functioning, and expressions of distress. 2. Culturally skilled counselors respect indigenous helping practices and respect help~iving networks among communities of color. 3. Culturally skilled counselors value bilingualism and do not view another language as an impediment to counseling (monolingualism may be the culprit). B. Knowledge 1. Culturally skilled counselors have a clear and explicit knowledge and understanding of the generic characteristics of counseling and therapy (culture bound, class bound, and monolingual) and how they may clash with the cultural values of various cultural groups. 2. Culturally skilled counselors are aware of institutional barriers that prevent minorities from using mental health services.

3 3. Culturally skilled counselors have knowledge of the potential bias in assessment instruments and use procedures and interpret findings keeping in mind the cultural and linguistic characteristics of the clients. 4. Culturally skilled counselors have knowledge of family structures, hierarchies, values, and beliefs from various cultural perspectives. They are knowledgeable about the community where a particular cultural group may reside and the resources in the community. 5. Culturally skilled counselors should be aware of relevant discriminatory practices at the social and community level that may be affecting the psychological welfare of the population being served. C. Skills 1. Culturally skilled counselors are able to engage in a variety of verbal and nonverbal helping responses. They are able to send and receive both verbal and nonverbal messages accurately and appropriately. They are not tied down to only one method or approach to helping, but recognize that helping styles and approaches may be culture bound. When they sense that their helping style is limited and potentially inappropriate, they can anticipate and modify it. 2. Culturally skilled counselors are able to exercise institutional intervention skills on behalf of their clients. They can help clients determine whether a "problem" stems from racism or bias in others (the concept of healthy paranoia) so that clients do not inappropriately personalize problems. 3. Culturally skilled counselors are not averse to seeking consultation with traditional healers or religious and spiritual leaders and practitioners in the treatment of culturally different clients when appropriate. 4. Culturally skilled counselors take responsibility for interacting in the language requested by the client and, if not feasible, make appropriate referrals. A serious problem arises when the linguistic skills of the counselor do not match the language of the client. This being the case, counselors should (a) seek a translator with cultural knowledge and appropriate professional background or (b) refer to a knowledgeable and competent bilingual counselor. 5. Culturally skilled counselors have training and expertise in the use of traditional assessment and testing instruments. They not only understand the technical aspects of the instruments but are also aware of the cultural limitations. This allows them to use test instruments for the welfare of culturally different clients. 6. Culturally skilled counselors should attend to as well as work to eliminate biases, prejudices, and discriminatory contexts in conducting evaluations and providing interventions, and should develop sensitivity to issues of oppression, sexism, heterosexism, elitism and racism. 7. Culturally skilled counselors take responsibility for educating their clients to the processes of psychological intervention, such as goals, expectations, legal rights, and the counselor's orientation. Arredondo, P., Toporek, M. S., Brown, S., Jones, J., Locke, D. C., Sanchez, J. and Stadler, H. (1996) Operationalization of the Multicultural Counseling Competencies. AMCD: Alexandria, VA

4 Ethical Decision-Making Model at a Glance 1. Identify the Problem 2. Apply the ACA Code of Ethics (latest version) 3. Determine the Nature of Dimensions of the Dilemma 4. Generate Potential Courses of Action 5. Consider the Potential Consequences of all Options then Choose a Course of Action 6. Examine the Selected Course of Action 7. Implement the Course of Action

5 Advocacy Competency Domains Acting With Client/ Student Client/Student Empowerment School/ Community Community Collaboration Public Arena Public Information Acting On Behalf Client/Student Advocacy Systems Advocacy Social/Political Advocacy Microlevel Macrolevel ADVOCACY COMPETENCIES: Lewis, Arnold, House & Toporek, 2003 Client/Student Empowerment An advocacy orientation involves not only systems change interventions but also the implementation of empowerment strategies in direct counseling. Advocacy-oriented counselors recognize the impact of social, political, economic, and cultural factors on human development. They also help their clients and students understand their own lives in context. This lays the groundwork for self-advocacy. Empowerment Counselor Competencies In direct interventions, the counselor is able to: 1. Identify strengths and resources of clients and students. 2. Identify the social, political, economic, and cultural factors that affect the client/student. 3. Recognize the signs indicating that an individual s behaviors and concerns reflect responses to systemic or internalized oppression. 4. At an appropriate development level, help the individual identify the external barriers that affect his or her development. 5. Train students and clients in self-advocacy skills. 6. Help students and clients develop self-advocacy action plans. 7. Assist students and clients in carrying out action plans. Client/Student Advocacy When counselors become aware of external factors that act as barriers to an individual s development, they may choose to respond through advocacy. The client/student advocate role is especially significant when individuals or vulnerable groups lack access to needed services. Client/Student Advocacy Counselor Competencies In environmental interventions on behalf of clients and students, the counselor is able to: 8. Negotiate relevant services and education systems on behalf of clients and students. 9. Help clients and students gain access to needed resources. 10. Identify barriers to the well-being of individuals and vulnerable groups. 11. Develop an initial plan of action for confronting these barriers. 12. Identify potential allies for confronting the barriers. 13. Carry out the plan of action. Community Collaboration Their ongoing work with people gives counselors a unique awareness of recurring themes. Counselors are often among the first to become aware of specific difficulties in the environment. Advocacy-oriented counselors often choose to respond to such challenges by alerting existing organizations that are already working for change and that might have an interest in the issue at hand. In these situations, the counselor s primary role is as an ally. Counselors can also be helpful to organizations by making available to them our particular skills: interpersonal relations, communications, training, and research.

6 Community Collaboration Counselor Competencies 14. Identify environmental factors that impinge upon students and clients development. 15. Alert community or school groups with common concerns related to the issue. 16. Develop alliances with groups working for change. 17. Use effective listening skills to gain understanding of the group s goals. 18. Identify the strengths and resources that the group members bring to the process of systemic change. 19. Communicate recognition of and respect for these strengths and resources. 20. Identify and offer the skills that the counselor can bring to the collaboration. 21. Assess the effect of counselor s interaction with the community. Systems Advocacy When counselors identify systemic factors that act as barriers to their students or clients development, they often wish that they could change the environment and prevent some of the problems that they see every day. Regardless of the specific target of change, the processes for altering the status quo have common qualities. Change is a process that requires vision, persistence, leadership, collaboration, systems analysis, and strong data. In many situations, a counselor is the right person to take leadership. Systems Advocacy Counselor Competencies In exerting systems-change leadership at the school or community level, the advocacy-oriented counselor is able to: 22. Identify environmental factors impinging on students or clients development 23. Provide and interpret data to show the urgency for change. 24. In collaboration with other stakeholders, develop a vision to guide change. 25. Analyze the sources of political power and social influence within the system. 26. Develop a step-by-step plan for implementing the change process. 27. Develop a plan for dealing with probable responses to change. 28. Recognize and deal with resistance. 29. Assess the effect of counselor s advocacy efforts on the system and constituents. Public Information Across settings, specialties, and theoretical perspectives, professional counselors share knowledge of human development and expertise in communication. These qualities make it possible for advocacy-oriented counselors to awaken the general public to macro-systemic issues regarding human dignity Public Information Counselor Competencies In informing the public about the role of environmental factors in human development, the advocacy-oriented counselor is able to: 30. Recognize the impact of oppression and other barriers to healthy development. 31. Identify environmental factors that are protective of healthy development. 32. Prepare written and multi-media materials that provide clear explanations of the role of specific environmental factors in human development. 33. Communicate information in ways that are ethical and appropriate for the target population. 34. Disseminate information through a variety of media. 35. Identify and collaborate with other professionals who are involved in disseminating public information. 36. Assess the influence of public information efforts undertaken by the counselor. Social/Political Advocacy Counselors regularly act as change agents in the systems that affect their own students and clients most directly. This experience often leads toward the recognition that some of the concerns they have addressed affected people in a much larger arena. When this happens, counselors use their skills to carry out social/political advocacy. Social/Political Advocacy Counselor Competencies In influencing public policy in a large, public arena, the advocacy-oriented counselor is able to: 37. Distinguish those problems that can best be resolved through social/political action. 38. Identify the appropriate mechanisms and avenues for addressing these problems. 39. Seek out and join with potential allies. 40. Support existing alliances for change. 41. With allies, prepare convincing data and rationales for change. 42. With allies, lobby legislators and other policy makers. 43. Maintain open dialogue with communities and clients to ensure that the social/political advocacy is consistent with the initial goals.

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