This paper examines the basic definition of multicultural crisis counseling and its practical aspects. The articles, still, vary in the description of its implications. Furthermore, Ahmed, Wilson, Henriksen, and Jones (2012) demonstrated that teaching counselors about the meaning of multicultural competence are a vital part of multicultural counseling training. Multicultural understanding manifests itself in a certain understanding of the strategies and the interaction of cultural characteristics of the client and the counselor. This essay highlights the key aspects of counseling competence development. By means of these counseling competencies, the author suggested several recommendations for developing multicultural counseling competencies in relation to the counselor’s awareness, knowledge, and skill spheres.
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Today the tendencies of contemporary cultural and civilizational development present the phenomenon of multiculturalism. Spatial co-existence of cultural diversity has led to overcoming the isolation of traditional cultures and ethnic stereotypes. Cultures are no longer closed within the state borders, and there is a constant process of interaction and mutual influence, such as interpenetration as well as mixing or differentiation of various ethnic groups and their cultures. Hence, multicultural counseling arises in varied and exchanging contexts, which include theoretical, empirical, and cultural aspects. As a unique knowledge practice, culture has both general and specific aspects. In this respect, all the members of the community grow up as participants of a social unified global interaction and adopt precise cultural features through various values, principles, and beliefs (Edwards, 2015). Because of limitless amount of facts and absence of a universal psychological concept, the problem of multicultural counseling identifies the cultural background of the counseling and the significance of balance between altered aspects of culture (James, 2013; Greene, 2014). Although multicultural crisis counseling develops the basic concepts of its development, it is still problematic to identify basic aspects of its competence and training issues.
The Crisis Counseling: A Basic Implication
Crisis counseling, along with the crisis psychotherapy, aimed at providing psychological care to those, who have experienced a critical situation, is connected with the internal and external events in an individual’s life. People, who survived critical life events, have their mental balance disturbed.
Emotional problems temporarily prevent the ability to respond to the demands of the life situations according to reality. If a person is experiencing a critical situation, he or she cannot find the ways to adapt and to reconcile with the new circumstances of life. Hence, crisis counseling starts with the provision of emergency psychological assistance, which primarily focuses on working with such states. The crisis counseling is directed mainly to work with the client’s state, so counselor must an ability to work with a variety of destructive emotional experiences such as feelings of anger, guilt, fear, anxiety, depression, or grief.
As it is known, the expression of a particular style of response or reaction depends equally on the particular situation (e.g., strength and duration of the exposure to the traumatic factor) (Bidell, 2012). Therefore, reactions to stressful situations are not strictly dependent on an individual. However, representatives of some cultures and ethnic groups can have similar responses.
In general, the crisis counseling as one of the most versatile ways to deal with different types of difficult life situations. This kind of consulting offers a variety of assistance, as well as a high development potential in various fields of social support, which include the main and additional methodology (Dodson, 2013). It has multiple immediate and delayed effects, which transform internal and external client’s life, including the attitude towards oneself and the world, other people, as well as a change of activities and life in general.
From this perspective, it is clear that crisis counseling has its well-organized and well-developed theoretical and practical implications. However, the multicultural counseling approach is a more narrowed direction of crisis counseling. The specification of this approach is discussed below.
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The Multicultural Counseling Approach
Topicality and an urgent need to study the discourse of psychological care in a multicultural context have two reasons. The first is a gradual replacement of the national societies with multicultural ones, due to a rapid process of globalization. Second is a problem of ignoring of local cultural characteristics, basing on which, the government should build a system of psychological help.
Multicultural counseling is an advanced form of the traditional psychological counseling. It bases on the theory of recognition of differences and similarities of specific cultural features, which create a general representation of a variety of cultures and ethnicities (Wang & Kim, 2011). The multicultural counseling, however, is one of the most important aspects of the development of this methodology. It is associated with a more widespread introduction into the society and improves the overall culture of the society in relation to the factors, which prevent crises and are the most productive.
Evaluation improves the effectiveness of the selected list of criteria in connection with the aspects, described above, and reduces the ambiguity in the understanding of the fact that what is happening with the examination of the results is not so perfect. In any case, it is a particular practical problem, which is solved by the experts in the course of counseling, as well as by monitoring other common problems in this area. Moreover, territoriality, as a principle of psychological counseling, should be taking into account cultural aspects of a social community or communities, occupying an exact territory.
That is why multicultural counseling is one of the important directions of the psychotherapeutic support in the process of adaptation of labor migrants and ethnic. Edwards (2015, p. 38) defined it as any relationship of two or more parties, which differ from the standpoint of cultural identity, values, and lifestyle. Furthermore, the term “multicultural counseling” refers to a specific area of specialization, which is aimed at the sphere of relations that arise from the intersection of cultural boundaries (Ahmed, Wilson, Henriksen & Jones, 2012).
Moreover, Lentin and Titley (2012) highlighted the problem of immigrates, who currently arrive into the territories of Europe. Authors acknowledged that such immigration processes result in a substantial multicultural crisis and unfavorably affect the European community. As a result, Lentin and Titley (2012) proposed that the only solution for this situation would be a multicultural counseling, which will assist individuals in adaptation to a multicultural environment. According to Edwards (2015), such suggestion has its significant benefits. Likewise, in his study, the author showed successful results of multicultural counseling among families in the South Africa. On average 63% of all families received the multicultural counseling, which helped the community to overcome cultural differences.
In their study, Ahmed et al. (2012, pp. 19-21) overviewed some basic implication of multicultural counseling. Authors identified that this kind of counseling formulates and describes the components and processes that are necessary for a successful cross-cultural communication. A model that was proposed by Sue had the greatest influence on the multicultural counseling (Ahmed et al., 2012, p. 21). Additionally, this model proposes three components of cultural skills development for a counselor, who is working in the sphere of multicultural counseling. First element is mature personal perceptions and attitudes in relation to a culturally different client. Second is the knowledge of cultural diversification. Third is the ability to use culturally appropriate methods and techniques of intervention. The other model that was proposed by Arredondo and colleagues (Ahmed et al., 2012, pp. 23-24), describes the behavioral manifestations of formation of attitudes, knowledge, and skills.
The above analysis leads to the assumption that the effectiveness of the multicultural counseling approach mainly depends on the competence of a counselor. Moreover, some authors suggest that the ability to transform own stereotypical reactions to different cultural groups, and to formulate concrete examples of stereotypes about how perceptions may have an impact on the relationship between the client and the consultant is a basic background in multicultural counseling (Dodson, 2013; Chao, Wei, Good, & Flores, 2011). However, there is still a problem of competence among counselors.
The Problem of Multicultural Counseling Competence
Ahmed et al. (2012, p. 22) defined multicultural competence of counselors as the ability to identify social and cultural impact on their own development and in the process of providing support to the clients. . For sure, particular attention should be paid to the skills and experience of the practical psychologist in the framework of multicultural counseling, the activities of which must be highly qualified and competent in all phases of the work. Furthermore, Dodson (2013) argued that the counselor must be tolerant. He also has to respect and accept cultural differences of various cultural groups.
According to the cultural compatibility hypothesis, the interaction of the counselor and the client is effective if the cultural barriers between them are minimal (Greene, 2014). Numerous scientists tested this hypothesis and showed that the counselor and the client (who belong to different cultural groups) do not achieve the desired outcomes of counseling, especially in cases of specific structured approaches, aimed at solving these problems.
The alternative universal argument suggests that effectiveness of the improving of interaction between people from different cultural groups is not directly linked to the ethnicity or race of the counselor and the client (Chao et al., 2011). However, all researchers have noted the importance of sensitivity to the client’s subjective life values. Furthermore, the universal hypothesis also suggests that effective aid is linked to the presence of a specialist, who understands the desires of the client, and the client, who in his turn understands the counselor.
In connection with the impossibility of a full understanding of another culture and another person, it is important to realize that it can easily lead to a misunderstanding. In their study, Wang and Kim (2011) concluded that patient had a need for multicultural counseling in a hospital. Thus, cultural-minded understanding and the ability to comprehend alien experience, behavior, and values is an immanent part of counseling, which is even more important than the professional expertise.
Likewise, Bidell (2012) studied some issues concerning the students’ sexual and multicultural orientation in school. The author found that students from various sexual groups (LGBTQ) did not receive efficient help. This study demonstrates the effectiveness of professional school counselors. Besides, Chao et al. (2011) found a significant negative correlation between the multicultural counseling and racial difference. The findings support the idea that future multicultural counseling can reduce these differences. Similarly, Dodson (2013) did not found any differences on how school counselors addressed the issues of ethnicity and race. This result shows that multicultural counseling in the schools was not effective.
Another study, conducted by James (2013), showed that almost all of participants had a positive attitude, concerning multicultural counseling. However, the author found that some individuals practiced diverse techniques, based on counselors’ competence. It allows to assume that the multicultural counseling competence can affect the effectiveness of the counseling procedure.
Greene’s (2014) research on the future multicultural competencies of the counselors might be determined by the awareness of drawbacks and privileges of the community. However, this result also showed a tiny variance of 1.7%, which allowed to conclude that these two issues would form multicultural counseling competence in future.
Furthermore, Ahmed et al. (2012) demonstrated that teaching counselors about the meaning of multicultural competence helps to prepare them to work with students. Participants’ feedback concerning this issue showed that such sessions were organized with an aim to talk about it with the students. In addition, authors identified that the process of becoming a competent multicultural counselor is a long and active. From this point of view, it is vital to identify the implications of the multicultural counseling training.
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The Multicultural Counseling Training
According to Brooks, Kim, Moye, Oglesby, and Hargett (2015), all existing and emerging trends and approaches to multicultural counseling have a common basis in terms of content. It is the acknowledgement of the importance of cultural factors and the need to consider their impact on the client and professional relationships. According to other researchers, all existing directions can be identified as transient, which means that they will exist as long as the psychotherapeutic aspect of cultural factors will be presented in each form of the therapy (Edwards, 2015).
Psychologists believe that the therapeutic process, which does not take into account the holistic human experience, denies the importance of cultural groups and social values as well as contributes to the destruction of the integrity of an individual. In psychotherapy, a client should be considered as an integral being, who is not only an individual, but also an experienced community member, who lives in a society.
Moreover, Brooks et al. (2015) identified how far the subject of multicultural problems was addressed in the core curriculum. The result showed that 88% of all reasons had a least one element, associated with multicultural matters and counseling. Authors summarized that this issue was previously presented in order to address the problem of multicultural emergency in a more detailed way.
Fortunately, Edwards (2015) identified goals of the multicultural counseling training. He suggested that it should contain such components as the development of awareness, experience, and skills.
Thus, the cross-cultural and historical-cultural differences in psychological care, differences in communication patterns, and psychotherapeutic approaches are followed by differences, related to cross-cultural, historical, and cultural aspects, including the variations at the level of specific models of communication with the customer.
In counseling, the important role is taken by the professionalism of a counselor and the adaptation process of clients, by which they learn how to help themselves and people around them (Chao et al., 2011). The healing properties of any psychotherapy do not consist in the theory of unique features, such as psychoanalytic approaches or cognitive changes in these approaches, or in the general properties that are common to all areas of psychotherapy. Researchers have established properties common not only for the therapy of various types but also for various healing techniques, which exist in different cultures worldwide.
The members of the committee of the American Psychological Association have developed a memorandum of competence in multicultural counseling by highlighting three types of competencies such as awareness, knowledge, and skills (Ahmed et al., 2012). These competencies are further described below.
Competence, which implies consciousness, suggests four recommendations for the counselors. The first recommendation is to be aware of own cultural heritage, as well as to appreciate and respect cultural differences between people. The second point recommends to be aware of how own cultural values may affect customers from other cultures. The third advice is to understand and recognize the racial and ideological differences between the client and the consultant. Last, fourth idea suggests to know and to be aware of the cases, when a client, who belongs to a specific minority should be directed to other specialists.
In addition, there are four competence components, associated with the knowledge, required from the consultant. First is a good understanding of social and political forces that influence the relationship between the cultures that are in minority and majority. Second is a specific knowledge about the client’s culture. Third is a full and clear knowledge of the general theory and practice of traditional counseling. The fourth is awareness of the economic and legal barriers, which members of the minority face, when they have an aim to use the services that are provided in the field of mental health.
Finally, three types of skills that are a part of the competence framework in the field of multicultural counseling were suggested. First requirement is that all qualified counselors should possess a wide (corresponding to the level of skill) arsenal of verbal and nonverbal ways to respond adequately to a particular cultural context. Second, a counselor should be able to accurately and in time send and receive verbal and nonverbal messages in different cultural contexts. Last, third, counselors should be able to defend their clients and to make changes to the system or institution, acting on behalf of their clients, who belong to a different culture.
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In order to provide psychological assistance to individuals, who experience emergencies, and to devise effective strategies for psychological assistance under the time pressure, it is important to know, to understand, and to take into account the factors of cultural and ethnic regulation of behavior. The requirements for multicultural competency of counselors are growing as the population of numerous ethnic groups rises. This essay analyzed the basic aspects of such requirements through the discussion of different studies. It conclusion, there is a need for counselors to work harder with an aim to reach more effective results in multicultural counseling. Surely, this process and skills development encounters challenges and difficulties of varied nature, due to a cultural difference of clients. Counselors’ awareness of own culture might benefit their clients and can help them in the process of achieving awareness of multicultural aspects. An essential part of training for each counselor and professional is trying to be more culturally responsive and polite. Cultural competence is a primary step in the direction of contributing to the establishment of facilities for various clients and groups, which need assistance. Counselors need to tolerate and to show respect to the differences of numerous cultural traditions and beliefs.