On the last track, we discussed three approaches to moving beyond stereotypes in multicultural counseling. These three approaches were, 1. Intercultural Versus Intracultural Differences, 2. Transculturalism, and 3. a Tridimensional Approach.
On this track, we will discuss a typology of multicultural counseling. As you may know, a typology of approaches to multicultural counseling can begin to give an answer to the question of the relative importance of cultural differences with your client. With that in mind, Carter offers a classification system of Four Common Approaches to Multi-Cultural Training. These Four Common Approaches are Universal, Ubiquitous, Traditional, and Race-Based.
At the end of this track, we will consider a case study and determine the approach being used, but first let’s look at each of these approaches more closely. As we examine the similarities and differences between these four approaches, think of your therapy approach related to each. What are the ethical implications of your approach on your counseling strategies? What ethical implications might other approaches have?
Four Common Approaches to Multi-Cultural Training
#1 Universal Approach
Regarding the first approach, which is the Universal approach, a strong emphasis is placed on transcending culture. Instead of putting focus on the differences between cultures, the Universal approach puts focus on the similarities among human beings. I have found that counselors who adopt the Universal approach do not deny cultural differences, but instead see them as secondary to the similarities among human beings. Is this the approach you take to multi-cultural training? What effect might this approach have on your culturally different client’s counseling experience?
#2 Ubiquitous Approach
The second approach to multi-cultural training is the Ubiquitous approach. Therapists using the Ubiquitous approach generally celebrate cultural differences and recognize those cultural differences as multiple and situationally determined. However, unlike the Universal approach, the Ubiquitous approach does not view cultural differences as secondary to the similarities of human beings.
Therapists adopting the Ubiquitous approach see the cultural differences as equal to the similarities of human beings. In addition, I have found that a therapist adopting the Ubiquitous approach usually holds the belief that an encounter between any two people is a cross-cultural encounter because any two people can bring together a difference in cultural background.
#3 Traditional Approach
In addition to the Universal approach and the Ubiquitous approaches to therapy, the third approach to multi-cultural training is the Traditional approach. The Traditional approach emphasizes that culture is understood as a common experience in the functions of socialization and environment.
Therapists adopting the Traditional approach will usually access knowledge of the client’s culture in order to establish the basis of empathy. However, while the Traditional approach does weigh the differences between the two cultures, it does not consider the dynamics of dominant versus non-dominant cultures. Does this sound like your personal belief and approach to multi-cultural training? If so, how is it influencing your counseling relationship with your culturally different client?
#4 Race-Based Approach
The fourth approach to multi-cultural training is the Race-Based approach. Therapists that operate under the belief that race superimposes itself upon all other cultural variables at all times are usually classified as therapists that use the Race-Based approach. I have found that the Race-Based approach is the only approach that takes into serious consideration the difference-of-power dynamics among cultural groupings.
As you know, race is one variable that is neither fluid nor flexible. If you are not familiar with the Race-Based approach, you may liken it to a gender-based approach. A Race-Based approach is similar to a gender-based approach because both recognize a superimposed variable determined by physical characteristics upon which ideas and assumptions about one’s place in society are applied. Obviously, the difference is that in a Race-Based approach, the variable is race of the client, whereas in the gender-based approach, the variable is gender of the client. Make sense?
Now let’s look at a brief case. As I describe the case, see if you can determine the approach to multi-cultural training that the therapist in the case uses.
Roshaun (row’-shawn), a 15-year-old African American, was referred to his school’s counselor, William, for “abusive language” and “aggressive behavior.” His teacher, Mr. Smith, noted specifically that Roshaun had shoved another student in the classroom. William began sessions with Roshaun, expecting to find roots for his aggression in a chaotic home life. After learning a bit about the African-American neighborhood Roshaun grew up in and his home life, William realized that the abusive language the teacher had referred to was simply the street slang Roshaun was comfortable using in conversation.
As for the aggressive behavior and shoving, Roshaun stated, “That was just my friend, Jevonte (jev-on’-tay). We were just givin’ each other a hard time. I got all up in his grill, but I wasn’t really gonna hurt him. I tried to explain it, but Mr. Smith wasn’t listenin’. He just told me to ‘stop the abusive language,’ but I wasn’t threatenin’ nobody! Then he said that us hoods were all the same, and that he couldn’t deal with me.” By the end of the session, William decided that Roshaun’s behavior was simply culturally appropriate.
What approach do you think Roshaun’s school counselor, William, was using? As you can see, William was taking a ubiquitous approach. The most obvious clue he is using the ubiquitous approach in this case study was William’s willingness to consider the culture of Roshaun’s neighborhood. As stated earlier, therapists using the ubiquitous approach view cultural differences as situationally determined. As such, Roshaun’s neighborhood and experiences growing up there could be the situationally determined cause for the current cultural differences. Make sense?
Which approach do you take regarding multi-cultural training? The APA Code of Ethics states, “Psychologists are aware of and respect cultural, individual, and role differences, including those based on age, gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, culture, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, disability, language, and socioeconomic status and consider these factors when working with members of such groups.”
Do you focus on the similarities of all human beings, like the therapists who work with the Universal approach? Or maybe you approach multi-cultural training with the belief that cultural differences are equal to human similarities, like the Ubiquitous therapist? Or do you instead counsel culturally different clients based on the belief that race superimposes itself upon all other cultural variables like the Race-Based approach therapists? What are the ethical implications of each of these belief systems on a counseling relationship with a culturally different client?
On this track, we have discussed the Four Common Approaches to Multi-Cultural training. These four common approaches were the Universal approach, the Ubiquitous approach, the Traditional approach, and the Race-Based approach.
On the next track we will discuss Five Cultural Adaptation Methods. These Five Cultural Adaptation Methods are Assimilation, Integration, Alternation, Rejection, and Marginalization
What are the four common approaches to multi-cultural training?
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