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On the last track we 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 this track, we will discuss cultural adaptation methods. I have found that there are Five Cultural Adaptation Methods. These Five Cultural Adaptation Methods are Assimilation, Integration, Alternation, Rejection, and Marginalization.
Sound interesting? Let’s look at each of the five methods more closely. Following the descriptions of the five cultural adaptation methods, we will consider a brief case study from an ethical perspective and determine which method that culturally different client is using.
Five Ethics Cultural Adaptation Methods
I have found that the new identity spread by the melting pot metaphor became an expectation for all minority groups to assume the white American identity. As a result, minorities had to reject their own cultural background and become totally absorbed by the dominant majority culture. You can clearly see the ethical conflict here. Assimilation implies a unidirectional movement in culture, as well as the superiority of one particular culture over others.
Method #2 - Integration
However, integration does have some similarities to assimilation. Integration still implies the acquisition of the dominant culture, as well as unidirectional movement. In addition, integration also still implies a hierarchical relationship between the two cultures, with the dominant culture being seen as superior to other cultures.
Method #3 - Alternation
As you can see, alternation allows for biculturalism, or the ability to develop and maintain competence in two different cultures. Obviously, alternation is different from the first two cultural adaptation methods of assimilation and integration in that it implies a bidirectional movement instead of a unidirectional movement. This bidirectional movement also implies a nonhierarchical relationship between the two cultures. By that I mean, the two different cultures are equal.
Method #4 - Rejection
This withdrawal is caused by a high identification with the culturally different client’s minority culture and a low identification with the dominant majority culture. In this adaptation method, a culturally different client may maintain his or her cultural identity. However, unlike with other adaptation methods, the adaptation method of rejection eliminates the possibility of biculturalism.
Method #5 - Marginalization
Now let’s consider the case study of Sumey (sue’-me). As I describe her situation, see if you can determine which cultural adaptation method she is using. Is she using Assimilation, Integration, Alternation, Rejection, or Marginalization?
Sumey, age 21 an Asian American, is in her final year of college and studying sociology. Sumey sought therapy because she was suffering from depression. She stated, "I feel worthless and feel like committing suicide sometimes. I just can’t concentrate a lot of the time. My schoolwork is really suffering!" I just broke-up with my white boyfriend, Greg."
After her intake, Sumey was originally assigned to an Asian American therapist. However, Sumey was switched to a white therapist when it became apparent that Sumey resented the fact that she had been assigned to a "less-qualified", as she put it, Asian American because of her race. In sessions with the new therapist, Sumey expressed resentment and hatred for anything that reminded her of her Asian heritage.
What cultural adaptation method do you think Sumey is using? Clearly, I feel Sumey is using assimilation. She is trying to adopt the American culture while completely rejecting the Asian culture. Sumey also views the Asian culture as inferior, as shown by her statement that the Asian American therapist was "less qualified."
The social work Code of Ethics states, "Social workers should understand culture and its function in human behavior and society, recognizing the strengths that exist in all cultures." Think of your culturally different client. Which cultural adaptation method is he or she using; Assimilation, Integration, Alternation, Rejection, or Marginalization? For effective ethical counseling, how should your counseling techniques be influenced by your client’s method?
On this track we have discussed Five Cultural Adaptation Methods. These Five Cultural Adaptation Methods are Assimilation, Integration, Alternation, Rejection, and Marginalization.
On the next track we will discuss acculturative stress as it compares to the "Culture Shock" syndrome. We will also discuss the five factors that regulate the relationship between acculturation and stress. These five factors are mode of acculturation, phase of acculturation, nature of the subculture, characteristics of the adapting group, and characteristics of the acculturating individual.
This material was written by Tracy Appleton, LCSW, MEd and the reference listed below was used as a resource:
Ethics CEU QUESTION 3
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