The counseling competencies of attitudes and beliefs, knowledge, skills, and action must be developed on the levels of counselor self-awareness, client worldview, counseling relationship, and counseling advocacy and interventions (Hays & Erford, 2017). Within the developmental domain of the client’s worldview, taking action is a competency that will be challenging for me to develop. This involves “immersing oneself” (p. 595) in the client’s culture, community, and experiences. I will find this challenging because of the discomfort and vulnerability involved in such immersion. I recognize I may be rejected by some, or at least judged and misunderstood. Yet this is precisely why the approach will be effective to better empathize with the client’s world and experiences.It is imperative for a Christian counselor to develop sound multicultural competencies that allow for Christian principles to be applied without imposing beliefs and values onto the client. Dr. Moitinho (Liberty University, 2018) discussed numerous principles for culturally competent counselors to apply with a Christian perspective. Practicing the greatest commandments allows the counselor to love God passionately through loving people genuinely (New American Bible, Matthew 22:360-40). Viewing each client from a distinctive biblical anthropology allows the counselor to recognize that each client, regardless of beliefs, values, and culture, is created in the image of God with intrinsic worth (New American Bible, Genesis 1:26-27) and is someone for whom Christ died. Being incarnational like Christ who became fully human in order to save all people, involves a counselor identifying with clients without compromising their Christian identity. Counselors must overcome ethnocentrism, ensuring their culture is not viewed as superior just as St. Paul taught the first Christians to not look at others as Gentiles or Jews (New American Bible, 1 Corinthians 12:13). Counselors are also called to contextualize their approach, adapting it to be culture-specific for the individual client. One additional Christian principle for counselors is to be willing to sacrifice, viewing sacrifice or penance as necessary to grow closer to God. “Then Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me’” (New American Bible, Matthew 16:24). Jesus was not calling on us to deny everything in our lives, but rather to deny our fallen selves, the aspects within each of us that prevent us from receiving what God wants for us. The broken self or fallen self, was what St. Paul referred to as “the flesh” (New American Bible, Galatians 5:24), or human nature. As multicultural counselors with a Christian worldview, we are called not to pick up the crosses of our clients, but rather to pick up our own. Certainly, Scripture calls on us to share one another’s burdens (New American Bible, Galatians 6:2), but to have that ability, we must first pick up our own cross before we can help our clients carry theirs. In Christian theology, these sacrifices are considered one’s penance, mortification, or “death”. They are the means to deny one’s self, or essentially die to the self. This is necessary because whatever is within us that is keeping us from God, will also keep us from heaven. To be like Jesus while on this earth, we can make sacrifices for the sake of others. For counselors, sacrifices may include volunteering time for marginalized clients without financial means. This need is significant with the existing geographic and economic barriers that currently exist with counseling services (Hays & Erford, 2017). Another way to sacrifice is to advocate for clients with social justice needs not being met by the community or other systems in place. Integral to the counseling profession, such advocacy work allows counselors to be involved at multiple levels of the clients’ lives, specifically addressing the institutional and social barriers as required by CACREP standards (CACREP, 2016; Gess, 2016).Offering God these sacrifices, for the betterment of others, will draw us closer in relationship to Him. If there is an intrinsic connection between the sacrifice and the self, the counselor will be able to grow in spirituality and ability to serve clients better. Research has shown that individuals willing to sacrifice, whether the helper or the client, find growth (Sznycer et al., 2019). For example, I am selfish with my time and am hesitant to say yes when others ask too much of my time, thus an opportunity for me is to give more of my time without pay. I can give volunteer counseling to the many who could benefit yet without the ability to provide financing. This sacrifice will interrupt my selfishness and will intrinsically change me if I can offer the sacrifice as a gift of love for my clients and ultimately for Jesus. When you are in love with someone you make sacrifices for them. There is nothing we can physically do that is needed by God Himself, yet we can show our love for Him through service to others, especially marginalized clients.
References Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Education Programs (CACREP). (2016). 2016 CACREP standards. http://www.cacrep.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/2016-Standards-with-citations.pdfGess, J. (2016). Social justice in counselor education: Teaching advocacy across the core. Journal of Counselor Leadership and Advocacy, 3(2), 124-134. https://doi.org/10.1080/2326716X.2015.1133334Hays, D. G., & Erford, B. T. (2017). Developing multicultural counseling competence (3rd ed.). Pearson. Liberty University. (2018). Multicultural counseling competencies and the Christian . https://libertyuniversity.instructure.com/courses/69666/pages/watch-multicultural-counseling-competencies-and-the-christian?module_item_id=7700006New American Bible. (Revised Edition [NABRE], 2011). Books of the Bible Online. https://bible.usccb.org/bible (Original work published 1986) Sznycer, D. Delton, A. W., Robertson, T. E., Cosmides, L., Tooby, J. (2019). The ecological rationality of helping others: Potential helpers integrate cues of recipients’ need and willingness to sacrifice. Evolution and Human Behavior, 40 (1), 34-45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.07.005
I found it a bit difficult to choose one multicultural competency that may be more of a struggle for me, as I noted that there were elements within each one that I could see being difficult. The counseling relationship section seemed to have a few actions listed that I believe I would have a harder time with. Some of these included working with clients to explore how marginalized or privileged statuses influence the counseling relationship and opening the door for conversations on culture, discrimination, prejudice, stereotypes, and other topics of this nature (Hays & Erford, 2018). I noticed that the actions in this section stuck with me as seeming more challenging because I think that for many clients, topics and issues in these areas may be uncomfortable. Because of this, it would likely be difficult for me to try to address certain areas due to being uncertain of how the client may react and whether something may be triggering for them. I could also see how some clients may be resistant to talk about these issues for a variety of reasons and this could make working on them a bigger challenge. Singh et al. (2020) comprised a list of questions that counselors could ask themselves when implementing multicultural competencies in practice. The questions were client-focused with one specifically asking what the client needs. The questions helped me realize that despite my being uncomfortable bringing certain matters into the discussion, I will need to make time to process what may come up for me outside of that time with the client, as addressing the client’s needs is what is important. I thought that there were some great points in the presentation discussing characteristics of culturally competent Christian counselors. If I were to add to the list, I think I would say remember that we are capable. Because working with clients and colleagues from a variety of backgrounds can be challenging, I think that keeping one’s faith in mind during periods of struggle in this area could be beneficial. Philippians 4:13 says “I can do all this through him how gives me strength” (New International Version, 1978/2011). Although there will inevitably be times of discomfort or even tension and negativity in the counseling relationship due to cultural differences, it is something that we can get overcome. We could also find that something that comes up with a client stirs up something for us that we will have to process and work through. I think that remembering that He is by our side even when we may be struggling with these feelings can help us navigate some of the more challenging situations that could arise in the counseling relationship regarding culture. References Hays, D., & Erford, B. (2018). Developing multicultural counseling competence (3rd ed., pp. 591-600). Pearson. New International Version Bible. (2011). Zondervan. (Original work published 1978)Singh, A., Nassar, S., Arredondo, P., & Toporek, R. (2020). The past guides the future: Implementing the multicultural and social justice counseling competencies. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 98(3), 238-252. https://doi.org/10.1002/jcad.12319