Through the process of reviewing my journal entries, I was overwhelmed by incidents I went through. I realized some unfortunate and unintentional racism and microaggressions in my journals. I noticed that resulted in producing weak and imperfect assumptions. According to Sue and Sue, Microaggressions are “brief, everyday exchanges that send denigrating messages to a target group like people of color, women and gays “(2007. Chap5). It was obvious I did things according to my own culture and somehow disregarding others’ cultures unintentionally. Added to this, I found out that I was immature and unfair to make conclusions without further scrutiny. Scrutinizing all these non-stopping cultural thoughts, I started to think if I am culturally knowledgeable enough to be a counselor who got the necessary skills and means to work effectively with clients from multicultural backgrounds. Trough my previous journal review, I began to think about the reason why I struggle to bring up these multicultural calamities. Being hesitant on how I am going to provide therapy despite existing diversity issues. Despite all the readings, guest speakers and activities conducted in class, I find I still have some prejudice and assumptions in my subconscious mind such as homosexuality, which is challenging according to my religious beliefs as a Muslim. As a professional therapist, it will be helpful to get rid of these feelings and always stay away from being prejudiced against persons practicing different habits and beliefs. Sue and Sue said that “the belief in the inferiority of others as well as the belief that one has the power to oblige certain standards upon others of another culture is also witnessed” (SS 4). The ethnocentric monoculturalism mindset that Sue and Sue discussed in chapter four both shocks and amazes me.
Reading my journal entries helped me to reconsider the decisions and stereotypes I made about other ethnic minorities and especially homosexual communities. As a result of the journal reading, what are the measures that would help to avoid these stereotypes, perceptions, and beliefs do we hold about culturally diverse groups and may help us to maintain an effective relationship? (SS 2)
As far as my feelings are concerned, I was very frustrated and feel guilty and ashamed of being careless about a variety of multicultural minorities. Besides, it is not fair not to scrutinize these cultural calamities and not to withdraw from others and their situations and circumstances. This curiosity developed in me a sense of appreciation to tolerate these differences and willingness to find out more about my biases willing to work hard in order to be more aware of my weaknesses and change them. “Feelings of shame and pride are mixed in the individual and a sense of conflict develops” (SS 10)
Identity was given a generous part in my previous journal entries as I dedicated more space and time for better understanding of myself. More than that, the conversation I had with my colleagues, guest speakers, and class instructor as well as through readings, helped me to define my identity within my family and other groups in which I have belonged, especially the Muslim communities. This considerable wind of change actually taught me to not take cultural issues for granted anymore, to spend more time and effort figuring out who I am. However, it is still hard to devote completely to accept given cultural differences and to solve identity issues. But, it was comforting that Slavic people had been referred to as such a strong religious affiliations and characterized as “a cornerstone of their identity” (MGG 52, pg. 713. In dealing with multiracial backgrounds and issues, it is awkward to ask coworkers or individuals from different counties questions like “Where are you from?’ or “What are you?” because asking questions about ethnicity generates a sense of being offended and differentiated, and it is sometimes perceived as rude, insensitive, ambiguous and misconstrued. However, the idea is certainly not to make the person feel questioned or offended or attacked when asked about their ethnicity (SS 18). Maria Root’s Bill of Rights (SS 18) is a great inspiration to me since it gave me a much greater understanding of what we “ask” multiracial people to do when we ask about their heritage and expect it to “fit” within the monoracial classification system. Conceptualizing identities and giving them more focus is a good idea (SS 18; Torres, Jones, & Renn). It is crucial for more understanding of the topic of identity development. Personally, I still need to fully recognize and improve my own understanding of myself, my background, and my culture. Added to this the feeling of guilt was also common in my journal entries, and Sue and Sue stated that without such an awareness and understanding, we may unintentionally discriminate among multicultural groups. When this happens, we may become guilty of cultural oppression and be a threat to multicultural minorities (SS 10) I did feel guilty about many things, but it is very significant to be aware of this problem now in order to avoid it in future confrontations.
Personal Reflections on My Experiences
This class was an important step in my journey in life; it helped me to recognize many unintentional biases and stereotypes. It was a positive influence on me by improving my competencies, increasing my vigilance and cultural sensitivity. Yet, there is still a threat of underpathologizing a client’s symptoms without taking into consideration cultural backgrounds. More than that, the understanding of a client’s cultural context, having knowledge of culture-bound syndromes and being aware of cultural relativism, are challenging because, being oversensitive to these factors, the therapist’s pathology might be influenced negatively. As a result, this process ends up underpathologizing disorders (SS 4)
It is fundamental to put up with and value the difference of other cultures, and this class helped me also to think about it seriously as I believe during this short semester I achieved a level of cultural sensitivity and awareness by discussing the IDI Profile which presented information about how to make sense and how to react and treat these cultural similarities and dissimilarities.
Emotions such as anger, sadness, and defensiveness took a part of the discussion about experiences of race, culture, gender, and other socio demographic variables (MGG 1). These feelings can either improve or reduce the understanding of the notion of multicultural calamities. That is why I believe this class was very important to take. As a professional, working with a multicultural population, I am sure that I need to know that I am different and how to deal with it in an appropriate way. Moreover, in my little work experience, I worked with many different people who are from diverse cultures and that led to some challenging times to understand each other in the beginning in terms of language, eye contact, and sometimes body language. I have discovered that by making statements of similarity, I have the possibility to share our differences that can influence my professional and personal life. Discussing the language difficulty openly with a client may be a beneficial tactic in the future. Working with older adults was a good point that Sue and Sue covered in their book. They are aware that it is important to critically evaluate our own attitudes about old adults and their daily attitudes and concerns. Sue and Sue stated some legal and ethical issues that should be in mind while dealing or working with older adults (e.g., competency issues). Older adults need care and respect in terms of their mental status, and as a counselor, I have to know how to deal with those people in professional way.
The disabled population is another community that I learned to be aware of how to work with. Three models of disability affecting individuals were presented in the Sue and Sue book. First, the moral model is a “defect” considered a sort of sin or moral lapse. Second, the medical model is represented as a defect or loss of function that resides in the individual. Finally, the minority model is seen as an external problem involving an environment that fails to provide a shelter for individuals with disabilities. (SS 26) I learned that I have to treat people regardless of disability status with the same expectations and gather information about my client’s disability. Those people gave me strength.
It was also interesting to be aware of social class issues, and this class was beneficial in helping us as future professionals to figure it out. As discussed in chapter 12 in Sue and Sue, “Multicultural counseling and therapy must be about social justice, providing equal access and opportunity to all groups; being inclusive; removing individual and systemic barriers to fair mental health treatment, and insuring that counseling/therapy services are directed at the micro, meso, and macro levels of our society” (SS 12.) I learned that as counselors, we need to be hard working and supportive for immigrants and offer needed services for minorities and provide for local, state, and federal immigration laws. It is a big challenge to be able to work within different cultures setting, but keeping up will help people face all the barriers coming in the future.
Within my family, I feel powerless. I still have some issues that cannot be discussed with them, and most of these are cultural issues that I cannot change immediately always lead to conflict. The issues range from the handling of emotions, such as being able to express anger or shame about specific things, or being able to talk loudly about making my own decisions such as my relationship with the person who I choose to live who is from another culture. I learned also that sometimes, even the married couples of similar backgrounds; they may still face some intercultural concerns. However, relationships from multi cultural backgrounds reach to the edge of success and go beyond given culture differences.
As far as my IDI-personal plan is concerned, I mentioned that culture is about the rules of how to function within cultural context. Within the process of understanding these cultural differences and rules, I was somehow sensitive to those rules, but it is an important factor that participated to ameliorate my cultural awareness. I think I need to learn more effectively about my own culture including history and rules of myself and my family.
The encapsulated Marginality part in my IDI- personal plan signified that I am trying to figure out how to correlate my intercultural beliefs with my identity and how to make such transition. This condition transition between culture and identity is referred to as Adaptation and Integration. To demonstrate this transition, I am saying to myself, “Who I am?” compared to “What is my true culture?” like my Berber origins compared to other cultures in my country.
Another brief statement in my IDI-personal plan stated that I avoid learning about other cultures and ignore their history.
The profile also shows that I may have a commitment to the idea that people from other cultures are “like us”, or those people should share the same set of “universal” values I have. I may also have difficulties in identifying important cultural differences that influence intercultural relations, and I need to resolve these issues before I can exercise my greatest potential of intercultural competence (Bennett & Bennett, 2002).
In my professional part of my IDI-Personal plan, I mentioned that I have to be able to experience the existence of other cultures and I should be sensitive and aware in order to be effective with my clients.
It terms of working with people of color, it is useful to discuss the reaction of the client to a professional who is from a different ethnic background (e.g. “Sometimes clients feel uncomfortable working with a counselor of a different race”) and be aware of mistrust and work to earn a client’s trust (SS 14). It is very significant to comprehend the dissimilarities, assist the clients to be relaxed in working with me as a professional, and be trusted and well-liked.
Assessment of the Effectiveness to date of The IDI-based Personal Development Plan
My IDI Individual Profile helped me reflect on my experiences around cultural differences and similarities. As I reviewed my IDI profile results, I considered past situations in which I attempted to make sense of cultural differences and similarities; this can assist me discover statements that may have guided my actions in these situations. Moreover, I need to focus on a situation I am presently facing.
The IDI-based personal plan helped me to learn more about my own culture. I was surprised when I read the outcomes of my IDI result, especially in terms of being aware of my biases that I was thinking were strengths. In my developmental task, I stated that I have to recognize cultural differences that are escaping my notice. I have to learn more about my own culture especially its heritage. I will explore my own culture by gathering necessary information.
The IDI gave me the chance to be more conscious of “who” I am and where I came from.
Steps to continue developing my sensitivity to difference and cultural competence
I need to continue developing my sensitivity to difference and cultural competence and be able to work successfully with clients from diverse ethnics and cultural backgrounds. I need to continue developing awareness by recognizing the value of population diversity.
It is correct that one cannot discover everything about other cultures. However, I need to get awareness about other groups. I also need to separate my religious insights and respect others’ religion beliefs. I need to recognize and be mindful of who I am and where I came from. I need to be aware of my privilege as an educated person in my family. Finally, in order to continue developing my own sensitivity to difference and cultural competences, I have to recognize how my culture is viewed by others. I need to attend workshops and seminars about other cultures. I need to learn about others’ culture by watching documentaries and movies as much as possible.
Visiting other countries and participating in its cultural events and festivals, and sharing experiences with other people will be a very effective plan.