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13. November, 2014|Blog, Uncategorized|No comments

In an increasing changing world it is important to be aware of the needs of clients when it comes to race and ethnicity.    Counsellors are unlikely to have a broad knowledge and understanding of racial and cultural differences which result in cultural barriers to communication – customs, language, history and manners, to name a few.  These must be taken into account, working through in supervision any issues that may come up and allowing space to reflect on the spiritual implications.  The counsellor’s self awareness is paramount, knowing their own values, attitudes and biases and how they are likely to affect their work with their clients.  However, the relationship is the focus of the work and each individual is unique – not just from skin colour or religion – which is essential to who we are as people.  The challenge is to be aware of the diversity between yourself and the client, what your feelings are about their culture and how it may impact on you, as well as how much their culture affects their behavioural approach to life.

It is not the client’s job to educate the counsellor about their cultural background, it is the counsellor’s job to research it in order to possess the skills, knowledge and awareness necessary to work effectively.  Knowing a broad range of theories and more specifically techniques makes the counsellor versatile and his/her style malleable to the presenting client.  For example, some clients may be inhibited about opening up about their feelings as a result of engrained cultural conditioning of values and traditions which they have been brought up to respect.  Working with this resistance is a challenge and may well take time until they feel safe in the therapeutic alliance.  Strong boundaries and containment are vital.

During the counselling process:

  • Raise the cultural differences with the client and ask them how it feels for them.
  • Clarify their expectations.
  • Be aware of what is going on unconsciously and any transference/countertransference.
  • Find out about their attitudes to relationships, authority, commitment and work.
  • Establish their motivation.


The views here are the author’s and are intended for general guidance only