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Work the Cube: multidimensional cultural competency

I am looking at you,
You at him,
Kabir asks, how to solve
This puzzle —
You, he and I?

Kabir
(Philosopher, 1440-1518)


 

I’m trying to write a post about my multicultural experience during my internship and I’m finding that I don’t know where to begin.  This is not surprising.  I think it’s fairly common “not to know where to begin” when dealing with these issues of culture, the -isms, and clients.

I walked into the agency armed with my Multiculturalism in Counseling Resources and an abstract understanding of what might take place in the room.  I also walked in feeling worried that I might say something silly, or worse yet, insulting.  I’d had many classes that provoked thought, required self-reflective journaling and processing, demanded experiential activities, and imbued the theories of identify formation and multicultural counseling competencies – but putting it all together in a new environment with real clients was something entirely more challenging.

The key thing I made myself remember during my internship was that it’s a learning experience.  As a mental health counseling intern, I was there to grow, to contribute, to practice the skills and begin to make the transition from theory to practice.  Becoming a culturally competent counselor follows a similar path.

A few weeks into the internship, I returned to the Cube (see below).   I’d had an array of clients at that point – many with cultural norms, religious beliefs, and race, class, and educational experiences that differed from my own.  The Cube served the same purposes then as it does for me now.

The Cube reminds me of the interlocking components that lead to the development of cultural competence.  Using the Cube, I can determine which component (skills, awareness, knowledge) I need to focus on, for which group, and at what level.  Working the Cube reminds me that acquiring cultural competency is an ongoing and proactive process.

So, while honing your interviewing skills, learning the fine art of identifying discrepancies and mastering interventions, take some time to Work the Cube and flex that cultural competency muscle.  As counseling goes global and our society continues to evolve (Counseling Today, Aug 2012) we need to be equipped to deal with with clients and colleagues from all walks of life.

A multidimensional model of developing cultural competence (Sue, 2001)

An edited version of this blog appears on CounselingInternships.com

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Work/Life (im)balance

For the next few months, the end goal is fairly straight forward: reclaim life.  Being a student and a working professional has created an unhealthy work monster with no sense of what *down-time* means.  The word relax only serves to bring up memories of an 80s era full of synthesizers and classic music videos.

Somehow, I got it into my head that filling up every hour with “productive” tasks would be just the thing that would help me accomplish career and personal goals quickerfaster thus leading to a great big dose of Happy.  Instead what I’ve earned are poor sleeping and eating habits, silent wishes for germ inhabitants so that I can have a valid excuse not to do anything, and a blank-eyed expression when asked the question, “So, when are you free?”

Where is the Happy in that??

I’m not the only one who experiences the work/ life imbalance and I’m often one of the first to chastise others for not taking enough time for themselves.  Just a little hypocritical, perhaps.  So, I’m working on taking my own advice and the words of wisdom from a TEDx Talk: Shawn Achor: The Happy Secret to Better Work.  This time around, I’m not just nodding emphatically to the concept of change but seeking to implement a true change in behavior and in mindset to create more room for Happy.

Could I… Carve out some time for a positive journal writing session?  Make time for exercise?  Take a drive to a nearby park for some outdoor meditation?  The answer is a simple “yes.”  There’s time for work; why not find time for writing, sweating, meditating?  The tips are simple enough yet so often they get pushed to the sidelines by the idea that working longerharderfaster will ultimately lead to some pleasurable sense of being.  The truth?  It doesn’t.  Having a positive outlook and an internal sense of well-being are the things that happiness is made of and more happiness leads to far more productivity, creativity, and success than all the 16 oz cups of coffee and multitasking devices in the world could ever bring.

Change the lens through which you view the world and change your life?  What a novel idea.

“[It’s] the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality. And if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.” — Shawn Achor


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Blogging as Therapy

With all the negative publicity social media receives in regards to the lives of teens, there exists a shining reminder of the role it can play in producing positive effects.  The NY Times recently released an article highlighting the positive impact that blogging can have on the mental health of teenagers based upon recent research.  Amid the furor caused by topics like cyberbullying, the idea that blogging can serve as a form of therapy for teens evokes a sigh of relief and casts light on the ways in which social media can serve to connect individuals and decrease feelings of isolation.

While nothing may ever truly replace the traditional diary, being able to express oneself through the written word has always been hailed as both an art form and as a cathartic endeavor.  These findings remind us of the value of documenting emotions and experiences.  The responses that teens may receive to their blog serve to validate their feelings and can empower them to increase their social support system.

This seems like yet another new and innovative way for counselors to engage their teenage clients by meeting them where they are and working with new forms of communication in a therapeutic context.  Blogging with feedback may serve the same purpose as a group with respondents offering feedback, validation, corrective experiences, and providing reality checks which can then be discussed in the therapeutic dyad.  Teens seem much more likely to talk about their blog posts than they ever were to allow entry to the private pages of their diary.

For those of us that still consider a blog to be frightening concept, it may be time to take another look at the ways in which we can use it to enhance our own therapeutic interventions with teenage clients.  You may even be tempted to try your hand at your own blog.  It might just be good for you.

Read the article in full:  Blogging as Therapy for Teenagers – Studied – NYTimes.com