Asa 50-year-oldblack American, I have worked hard to eliminate part of the biasesthat limit my capability to perform as a therapist. However, I haverealized that because of some of the aspects of cultural integrationand evolution, it has become hard to eliminate all of my personalbiases. Some of the biases that I still hold include, understandingthe different sexualities such as lesbianism, gay, bisexual, andtransgender. Religion is also at the center of cultural factors thatincrease my biases.Despite being brought up in a Christian family,I try to practice and acknowledge diversity in religion. However, Istill have some biases in other religion such as Hindu, Muslim andnon-religious people such as atheists. I believe that these culturalbiases may affect my work as a therapist. To ensure that I keep thecultural diversity issues as far as possible,I developed a habit of tryingto relate and understand people from different religions and sexualorientation in my inner social cycles so that I understand themdeeply. By interacting and engaging with people of different sexualand cultural orientation,I have managed to reduce some of the personal biases.
Igrew up in a time when discrimination in the American culture wasrife everywhere, in neighborhoods andschools. In the early 1980s, many schools had clear images of racialinclination as the black and whites hardly mingled in schools. Theracial aspect was still very prevalent even in the televisionchannels as the white programs dominated the air view. I felt likethere was an aspect where the whites were regarded superiortoother races. This superiority aspect affectedother groups such as the black and forced them to retaliate. Thewhite kids werehardly welcomedin the black neighborhood. They were either chased away or at timesattacked. In the 1990s, the blacks were occasionally harassed by theauthorities since they wereassociatedwith violence and drugs. The television programs werehighly dominatedby white reporters and news anchors who often reported negative sideof the blacks’ social life. In 1984, I remember an incident when Iwas youngIwas going to a bookshop that was dominated bywhite employees. I was highly fascinated by storybooks,so I wanted to go through some of them before I decide which one Icould buy. As I was walking through the pavement towards the door, aman likely on his 40s yelled at me to get off his property. Theincident overwhelmed me,and I broke down intears.
Iadmit that later association with different people and advancededucation has helped to shape how I perceive people,especially from different social dimensions. Since I went to collegein my early 20s, I got a chance to interact with different peopleespecially from different races. This helped me significantly toeliminate the bias that I had formed that all whites were racist. Iunderstood that despite the common bias that can behardly eliminatedat a personal level because of race, proper understanding with peoplefrom different cultures and background is an important aspect toeliminate the bias.My interaction with Asian friends and whites in college helped me toget rid of some of the bias and widely held perception aboutdifferent groups. My experience with people of different cultures hashelped me to understand people from their personal background andtheir early life experiences. I now understand that people aredifferent,and some people share values and beliefs different from me.However,my personal experience has helped me to judge people bythe actions and situation but not from their cultural background orother differences.
Subtleracism is still prevalent in the US even in today after many years offighting racism. The blacks and the Latino are likely to be treateddifferently, such as being harassed, ignored, and ridiculed by othersuperior groups such as the whites. Subtle racism includes aspectsdeeply rooted prejudice to people outside one group. For a long time,many people have a perception that racism is only by majority groupsto the minority. However, I understand racism as the widely helpprejudice to outside groups because of the personality factors,social dominance, and other human self-motivatingfactors such as self-esteem.There is a general tendency for any group to view itself as superiorover others. For instance, Christian believes they are superior toMuslims. The same cases apply to racism in the US where many whitesbelieved they were physically and mentally superior to the blacks.Despite the decrease of racial aspects,it is hard to eliminate the personal prejudice to members outside onegroup. I believe that the minorities such as the blacks and Mexicansare also racists because they have some misconception and prejudicialbeliefs that they have held over the whites.
Differenceseven in the same group such as whites or blacks are still veryprevalent. The variations areenhancedby the fact that different early experiences such as theneighborhood, religion, economic aspect influence how people developperception and values. The environment that people grew in hasa significant influencein establishing perception and bringing out the differences in agroup.Psychologistsexplains that human beings have an inherent characteristic of tryingto be different from others. People only believe and want toassociate with people that they share the same characteristic andalways form prejudices and perception to members outside the groups.Some of the factors that can influence people to be different fromothers include aspects such as race, class, religion, sexualorientation and many other personal and social aspects. For instance,even within a white community, queerpeople are regarded as different and are likely to facediscrimination and bias. The same is likely to happen to a blackcommunityaMuslim is likely to be regarded with suspicion by Christian blacks.Group theory explains why members of a group might show variationwithin the group. The theory asserts that members establish the validexpected behavior within a group through the process ofsocialization. A group gets an identity from the specific, yetdistinct characteristics. If a member display varied characteristicsthat are not common within the group, they are likely to be regardedas outsiders within the same group.
Becauseof the difference in cultural values and the need to maintain aunified and a consistent ethical practice that isenshrinedin creating and adding value to a client, American CounselingAssociation (ACA) and NAADAC form important underpinning. These codesguide the collective behavior of counselors and improve theprofessionalism in service delivery. A helper or a therapist shouldhave an immense understanding of the client and also understandself-valueinorder toremove the potential bias when dealing with the client. These codeshelp in outlining the limitation and the capacity of individualcounselors when handling clients. The sole purpose of the counselingsession is to improve the condition of the client.Therefore,it is paramount for the counselor to observe and respect the valuesand cultural differences of the client. Understanding the person’sdifferences help the counselor to deal with a specific personalsituation by coming up with a solution to the problem. Some of thespecific ACA and NAADAC aspect that I observe include respect forclients’ ownvalues and avoid imposing mine by practicing tolerance, unconditionalregard, and patience. Espousing objectivity is also another importantprinciple that I apply when handling clients so that I observe onlythe problem and concentrating on coming up with a solution.
TheACA and NAADAC also stipulate that professional counselors shouldavoid any form of discrimination based on race, region, class,ethnicity or economic situation. These situations are very importantto me and form part of my personal values when dealing with any kindofpatient. Understanding the cultural diversity is crucial inadministering a personalized care and developing a holistictherapeutic intervention. People from different cultural backgroundshave variations in values and social aspects such as communicationand behavior. Understanding a client’s social background is thusimportant for therapiststo avoid imposing conflicting values and cultural aspects.