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Why Is Multicultural Counseling So Important?

Multicultural counseling is more important than ever. But what exactly is this approach, and how does it work? Get a trusted answer at HealthyPlace.

Multicultural counseling is an approach to therapy that takes racial and ethnic diversity into consideration as well as spirituality, class, sexual orientation and disability. Multicultural theory was developed to explore different contexts surrounding the counseling journey and the potential bias of practitioners. It aims to approach therapy in a way that is sensitive to marginalized or minority members of society, as well as politics and race. There is no one set multicultural counseling model, but multicultural approaches to therapy have some aspects in common – let’s explore them here.

What Is Multicultural Counseling And Who Is It For?

The term “multicultural counselling” refers to the ability of the therapist to approach counseling through the context of the client and their surrounding world. This encourages practitioners to be non-biased and well-rounded in their approach to meet the needs of today's diverse world. Multicultural counselors must be aware of the unique issues experienced by seemingly oppressed or marginalized members of society, as well as political or spiritual nuances that influence their thoughts or behaviors.

In multicultural counseling, the therapist must make decisions about how and when a client's problems are related to or mediated by cultural factors. They must be able to connect emotionally with your perspective and understand that not all issues are necessarily related to culture, sexuality or ability.

This approach is made up of three main elements:

  1. Cultural knowledge: your therapist must be aware of and educated in cultural variation and how this impacts the therapeutic journey
  2. Cultural sensitivity: awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity and its influences on psychological health
  3. Cultural empathy: your therapist will work to connect emotionally with your cultural perspective

Why Multicultural Counseling Is So Important

Due to increasing globalization, multicultural counseling is more important than ever. The scope of people going to therapy is also much broader than it was in previous decades. As such, the therapist must respond to the diverse range of individuals seeking mental health services, as well as the political and cultural factors that may influence their circumstances and lifestyle.

The changing technological landscape also increases the importance of multicultural counseling. Therapy is now available in a number of settings through a range of different mediums. Counselors can now provide opportunities for treatment over email, via telephone, and on video conferencing software to people who live in various parts of the world. As such, counselors must now be trained to work with a diverse range of clients and understand the unique issues they face.

Multicultural Therapy Techniques: How It Works

There are a variety of approaches and techniques used in multicultural therapy. This approach can be applied to many different models (such as person-centered or cognitive therapy), as it is not a type of therapy in its own right. Most counselors draw on a number of different models and tailor their treatment style depending on who they are working with.

Multicultural therapy techniques include:

  • Self-awareness: in multicultural therapy, self-awareness is important for both the client and the therapist. It is essential for both individuals to understand his or her cultural experience, as well as how it contributes to any privilege, bias or prejudice.
  • Flexibility: both parties must be aware of their own cultural limitations, and the therapist must be flexible in the treatment approach.
  • Communication: this is a vital part of the therapeutic relationship, so both verbal and non-verbal communication (i.e. body language and facial expressions) will be encouraged.
  • Sensitive approach: No matter the approach, a multicultural therapist should always consider your attitudes, beliefs and values during treatment.  

 If you consider yourself an ethnic minority or you believe your sexuality or religion is a factor in your mental health issues, then you may benefit from multicultural therapy. Ask your doctor to refer you to a talking therapist who is trained in the multicultural counseling approach or use your local directory to find a specialist in your area.

article references

APA Reference
Smith, E. (2019, September 18). Why Is Multicultural Counseling So Important?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/mental-illness-overview/why-is-multicultural-counseling-so-important

Last Updated: October 15, 2019
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Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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