Adapting counseling skills for multicultural and diverse clients.
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Adapting counseling skills for multicultural and diverse clients.

Adapting Counseling Skills for Multicultural and Diverse Clientsunderstanding stage skills of stating feelings and content, selfdisclosure, and asking concrete questions to be blunt and lackingdimension. Females may prefer a conversational style of counselingthat allows them to express more personal and emotional feelings.In contrast, males may find the use of these skills beneficial to theirprogress in session, but may struggle to identify their emotions. Also,the understanding stage skills of asking for concrete and specificexpressions; immediacy; identifying problem situations, action taken,and feelings; and confronting in a caring way may be considered bymales to be overly intrusive and emotionally charged (Smaby &Maddux, in press). In either case, the counselor needs to monitorclients' personal communication styles and adjust use of theunderstanding skills accordingly. If the counselor senses intimidation,withdrawal, or anxiety by the client, the counselor should provideample time and space to allow clients to express themselves in a waythat is comfortable.Understanding Stage Skills With Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual,or Transgender ClientsThe use of understanding stage skills with Lesbian, Gay,Bisexual, Transgender or (LGBT) clients may be considered toointrusive or direct, and may result in clients feeling vulnerable orattacked. Culturally competent counselors using these skills shouldconsider softening their delivery and tone. It is also important thatcounselors recognize that the mental health problems manifested bymembers of the LGBT community may not be due to LGBT identityitself (Smith, Foley, & Chaney, 2008). Counselors should alsoconsider the dual discrimination of persons of color who are alsomembers of the LGBT community and who experience challengesrelated to racism and heterosexism. In order to be effective in thetherapeutic setting with LGBT clients, the counselor mustconsistently communicate genuine empathy and support.39

Compelling Counseling InterventionsAdapting Acting Stage Skills for Addressing Economic Class(E), Chronological Age (C) and Psychological Maturity (P)Economic ClassClients affected by poverty may be reluctant to participate incounseling. These clients often struggle with basic life needs andmay view acting stage skills of deciding, choosing, and identifyingconsequences as impossible for them. Thus, clients with lowerincomes may require assistance in obtaining housing, food, andhealthcare. Once these lower-level needs are met they may be moreable to focus on strategies to improve their psychological functioning(Smith et al., 2008). Conversely, clients with higher levels of incomemay find the skills in the acting stage helpful, but may also feel theneed to design their own interventions. For example, in regard tocontracting, clients may decide what steps are needed to improve asituation without suggestions from the counselor.Chronological AgeActing stage skills may be difficult for children who are age2 years and under due to their more limited cognitive and emotionaldevelopment. Exploring stage skills may be much more appropriate.However, acting stage skills can be adapted for use with childrenages 2 to 7 years. This can be achieved by proposing tentativehypotheses regarding decision-making and contracting as a way tonurture the development of higher-order thinking and expandingviewpoints. Children between the ages of 7 and 11 years may be ableto engage in acting stage skills if they are presented in a concretefashion. However, like younger children, they will requiresuggestions and assistance in contracting and decision-making skills.Play therapy, art therapy, and media may be useful tools in workingwith children and adolescents in counseling. Counselors should alsoconsult with parents and caregivers to assist young children in theircounseling journey (Smaby & Maddux, in press).40

Adapting Counseling Skills for Multicultural and Diverse ClientsPsychological MaturityPsychological maturity as it relates to the acting stage skillsare based on clients' stage of cognitive and emotional development.For example, in Kohlberg’s theory, those whose moral reasoning isat stages one or two obey rules of behavior based upon their fear ofpunishment or trading favors. Children at this stage may not fullybenefit from acting stage skills due to egocentricity. On the otherhand, children who have progressed to moral reasoning levels atstages three and four (good boy/good girl or law and order) may beable to view perceptions of self and others as important to goodrelationships and rule-following as necessary and important for thebetterment of all. A counselor can deliver acting stage skills bysuggesting tentative hypotheses that can be confirmed or denied bychildren. Children at the highest level of Kohlberg’s theory of moralreasoning (social contract or golden rule) may be able to initiateacting stage skills and the counselor should allow such children to usetheir higher levels of maturity as springboards for developingeffective coping strategies (Smaby & Maddux, in press).Summary and ConclusionsThe RESPECTFUL Cube identifies 10 domains that act ascultural lenses through which counselors experience their clients.Thus, counselor educators need to help counselors-in-training toassess how differing views of these domains by diverse clients mayaffect the counseling process. Secondly, counselor educators need tohelp counselors-in-training learn to adapt the 18 counseling skills ofthe SCTM by using the RESPECTFUL Cube domains. Thesedomains can be used as a guide to accommodate clients from diversecultural groups. It is time for the counseling profession not only torecognize multicultural and diversity issues, but to developsystematic and practical approaches for helping counselors addressand adapt counseling practices with culturally diverse clients.41

Compelling Counseling InterventionsReferencesD’Andrea, M., & Daniels, J. (2001). RESPECTFUL counseling: Anintegrative model for counselors. In D. Pope-Davis & H.Coleman (Eds.), The interface of class, culture and gender incounseling (pp.417-466). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.LeBeauf, I. (2008). Racial disparities in new millennium schools:Implications for school counselors. [Electronic version].Journal of School Counseling, 6(10)., T. M., & Rivers, D. A. (2007). Helping skills and strategies.Denver, CO: Love Publishing.Smaby, M. H., Maddux, C. D., Torres-Rivera, D., & Zimmick, R.(1999). A study of the effects of a skills-based versus aconventional group counseling training program. Journal ofSpecialist in Group Work, 24, 152-163.Smaby, M. H., & Maddux, C. D. (in press.) Counseling skills:Assessing mastery, transfer, and client outcomes. Pacific, CA:Brooks Cole.Smith, L., Foley, P. F., & Chaney, M. P. (2008). Addressing classism,ableism, and heterosexism within multicultural-social justicetraining. Journal of Counseling and Development, 86, 303-309.Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (1999). Counseling the culturally different:Theory and practice (2 nd ed.). New York: John Wiley & Sons.Tackey, N. D. (2001). Eliminating bias in performance management[Electronic version]. British Journal of AdministrativeManagement, 27, 12-18.42

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