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Cultural Empathy

Explain what "cultural empathy" means to you? Can we really know the inner experiences of clients? How has this course prepared you to deal with cultural diversity in your chosen area of counselling practice? Please reflect on learning points and insights with regards to this and other related issues covered throughout the course (e.g., assessment, child and youth counselling, group therapy, etc.)

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(1) Explain what "cultural empathy" means to you?

Cultural empathy indicates that a practitioner/counselor has a "feeling" for the client. It is not sympathy, but a concern and understanding that the person is in a dilemma. Roysircar (2004) notes that competence in working with clients is essential for all therapists, and their knowledge of subjectivity (knowing the subject) is the key to this competence. Sue, Arrendo, & McDavies (1992 as cited in Roysircar, 2004) explain that a culturally skilled counselor is one "who is actively engaged in the process of his or her own assumption about human behaviors, values, biases, perception notions and potential limitations" (p. 658). According to Roysircar, through self-disclosures of one's own cultural self-awareness, one can recognize similarities in a number of ways including: (a) taking perspective of each other differences, (b) finding common ground, (c) crossing the border, and (d) achieving cultural empathy. He offers a more formal definition of cultural empathy as a "Therapist's awareness of the client's would view, which is acknowledged in relation to the therapist's own personal biases" (p. 660). For instance, therapists gain an awareness of their stereotypes regarding who are different (stereotypes based on attitudes and beliefs). In addition, therapists may have negative views about clients; however, according to Roysircar, they can discover their biases when reflecting on race-based thoughts and feelings-- both positive and negative.

Several ways are suggested as to how therapists may assess their cultural empathy to work with individuals with a diverse background including, tests of self-awareness when working LGBT ...

Solution Summary

This solution describes the concept of cultural empathy when working in a multicultural context. Instruments are recommended for use in training counselors/practitioners in cultural competency.