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Section 1
Disentangling Stereotypes

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As you know, multiculturalism has become a buzz word in therapy in recent years. The emphasis on the importance of cultural differences and the introduction of constructivism raises the question as to whether all counseling is multicultural. Do you ever wonder if multicultural counseling has just become a politically correct term for emphasizing the differences that exist among individuals and groups?

According to Sciarra, the effects of multicultural counseling depend on the emphasis on method or theory. As you know, multiculturalism as a method could lead to an overemphasis on technique. On the other hand, multiculturalism as a theory can lead to understanding oneself and others as a product of cultural variables. What are the ethical implications of these two outlooks on multicultural counseling?

In this section, we will discuss the need to move beyond stereotypes in ethically counseling culturally different clients. I have found that there are three approaches to moving beyond stereotypes in multicultural counseling. These three approaches are, 1. Intercultural Versus Intracultural Differences, 2. Transculturalism, and 3. Tridimensional Approach. Sound interesting?

Three Approaches to Moving Beyond Stereotypes

♦ #1 Intercultural Versus Intracultural Differences
Regarding the first approach of Intercultural Versus Intracultural Differences, the common ground of cultural differences is further substantiated by the consideration of both Intercultural, or between separate cultures, and Intracultural, or within one culture, differences. I have found that an exclusive consideration of Intercultural Differences and not the Intracultural Differences leads to a one-size-fits-all approach to counseling regarding cultural groupings and setting boundaries.

Do you agree? Thus, what distinguishes the anthropological concept of culture from the psychological concept is the serious consideration of intracultural differences in the psychological concept. The implications of this distinction for you, as a therapist, is that you should ask yourself how your client is the same as his or her cultural group, as well as how he or she is different from his or her cultural group. This question is important, as you know, because if multicultural counseling is limited to intercultural differences alone, the result is overgeneralization, stereotyping, and ineffective counseling.

According to Ho, to avoid these hazards of overgeneralization and stereotyping, it is important to adopt two theories to sensitize multicultural therapists to within-group differences. These two theories are the cultural identity development theory and the second-culture acquisition theory.

According to the cultural identity development theory, culture is resilient as cultural traditions survive and persevere over time. However, in addition, the second-culture acquisition theory states that culture is modifiable by both internal and external influences. In taking the Intercultural Versus Intracultural Differences approach, I feel to set appropriate boundaries a multicultural therapist needs to adopt both theories despite their apparent contradictions.

♦ #2 Transculturalism
The second approach to moving beyond stereotypes is Transculturalism. As you know, transculturalism is an alternative to understanding multiculturalism as a generic approach to counseling. However, according to Fukuyama, the transculturalism approach does not imply just moving beyond the cultural differences. Instead, transculturalism is about moving across cultural differences. As you can see, transculturalism is an invitation to take a cross-cultural journey within your own cultural group.

The point of the transculturalism approach is to emphasize that all counseling is cross-cultural because no two individuals have the same internalized culture. Thus, clearly, the ability to transcend your own culture, as a therapist, will enhance your ability to avoid culturocentrism and stereotyping of your culturally different clients. To set appropriate boundaries, the degree to which you are aware of your own cultural biases is the degree to which you can be a sensitive cross-cultural therapist. Ethically, you may need to explore your own internalized culture, as well as your culturally different client’s internalized culture.

♦ #3 Tridimensional Approach
Finally, in addition to the Intercultural Versus Intracultural Differences Approach and the Transculturalism Approach, the third approach to moving beyond stereotypes is the Tridimensional Approach. Ibrahim’s tridimensional model for working cross-culturally is composed of the majority culture, the culturally different client’s subculture, and the culturally different client’s world view. As you know, having a large knowledge base of your culturally different client’s subculture is helpful in the counseling process but not enough for effective cross-cultural counseling.

I have found that with the tridimensional approach, you may want to consider an analysis of your client’s subjective reality, as well as how that subjective reality may overlap with his or her primary culture. As you may have guessed, this approach, like the transcultural approach discussed earlier in this section, emphasizes a need for therapists to be aware of their own world view before they can understand, accept, and work within the world view of their culturally different clients.

In other words, a multicultural therapist should be aware of how his or her subjective world view is interfacing with his or her culturally different client’s world view. As you know, this can be done by identifying the similarities and differences between the therapist’s world view and the client’s world view. Obviously, this requires you, as the counselor, to adopt a belief that your culturally different client is your cultural equal despite your differences.

In this section, we have 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.

In the next section, we will discuss the Four Common Approaches to Multi-Cultural training. These four common approaches are the Universal approach, the Ubiquitous approach, the Traditional approach, and the Race-Based approach.

This material was written by Tracy Appleton, LCSW, MEd and the references listed below were used as resources:
- Ho, D.Y. (1995). Internalized culture, culturocentrism, and transcendence. The Counseling Psychologist, 23, 4-24.
- Sciarra, D. T. (1999). Multiculturalism in Counseling. Itasca, Illinois: F.E. Peacock Publishers, Inc.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Article References:
Gregus, S. J., Stevens, K. T., Seivert, N. P., Tucker, R. P., & Callahan, J. L. (2019). Student perceptions of multicultural training and program climate in clinical psychology doctoral programs. Training and Education in Professional Psychology.Advance online publication.

Gushue, G. V., & Hinman, K. A. (2018). Promoting justice or perpetuating prejudice? Interrupting external motivation in multicultural training. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(2), 142–150.

Krieglmeyer, R., & Sherman, J. W. (2012). Disentangling stereotype activation and stereotype application in the stereotype misperception task. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103(2), 205–224

Lu, J. G., Liu, X. L., Liao, H., & Wang, L. (2020). Disentangling stereotypes from social reality: Astrological stereotypes and discrimination in China. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Advance online publication. 

Najdowski, C. J., Bottoms, B. L., & Goff, P. A. (2015). Stereotype threat and racial differences in citizens’ experiences of police encounters. Law and Human Behavior, 39(5), 463–477.

Sehgal, R., Saules, K., Young, A., Grey, M. J., Gillem, A. R., Nabors, N. A., Byrd, M. R., & Jefferson, S. (2011). Practicing what we know: Multicultural counseling competence among clinical psychology trainees and experienced multicultural psychologists. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 17(1), 1–10.  

What are three approaches to moving beyond stereotypes in multicultural counseling? To select and enter your answer go to Ethics CEU Test.

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