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Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy Many counseling and psychology related organizations have recognized the need for counselors and psychologists to become more multicultural in their practice. Race/ethnicity and culture must be considered when using theoretical orientations, when training counselors and in practice. A balance needs to be found between differences (emic) and commonalities (etic). “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Diversity in Groups Groups are an important tool for addressing racism, sexism, religious intolerance, homophobia etc. Greater recognition has been centered on the diversity of group members and how culture impacts groups. Most theories were developed in working with white, male, middle-class clients and may not be applicable to other groups without adaptation. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Diversity in Groups The diverse make-up of the group also sends messages. For example in schools, group composition and subject topic need to be carefully constructed. If only certain ethnicities are represented and the topic is about bullying, then what does that say to group members and the greater population. Another consideration is that the more diverse or heterogeneous the group, the less likely it is to become cohesive early in the group process or even at all. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Diversity in Groups A group that is too alike or homogeneous runs a risk of engaging in “group think.” If forming a racially heterogeneous group, it is important to include more than just one member of a race. Otherwise, group members may look to that person to represent the whole race and it may isolate that member who is different from the others. It is important to directly address the diversity of a group. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Implementation and Preparation for a Diverse Group Define Goals: Are the goals and values that will be established congruent with the values and beliefs of the cultures represented? Select Members: How do issues of diversity influence who is or who is not in the group? What are the levels of racial identity development of the leader and group members? Establish Norms: How open will group members be to discussing issues of diversity? “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Implementation and Preparation for a Diverse Group Manage the Process: Group leaders need to have training in diversity issues so that they can recognize issues that hinder or enhance group process. Evaluate the Outcome: How did diversity issues play out in the sessions? If diversity issues are directly considered, did group members reach goals? Multicultural groups mirror the greater society and inter-member relationships can have a profound impact on group dynamics. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Marginalized Groups A marginalized person is one who has suffered discrimination and oppression. Many people who have been marginalized have feelings of suspicion, cynicism and pessimism. It is important not to assume things about the marginalized person’s experiences. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Marginalized Groups We often place a individual into a group with others when those “others” represent the group of the oppressor to that individual. We then expect that individual to share his or her most intimate thoughts, ideas or feelings within a group where he or she does not feel safe. This might set the individual up for a negative or hurtful experience. Cultural insensitivity on the part of a leader or other group members can enhance feelings of mistrust, suspiciousness and alienation and hinder feelings of belonging and acceptance. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Marginalized Groups Diversity is not just about race or ethnicity. It also includes disabilities, age, gender, and sexual orientation among others. All group members and leaders bring biases and prejudices to the group. How much this hinders and hurts the group is up to the leader. Awareness of diversity issues is imperative. All group members have a right to feel safe and respected. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Group Work With Marginalized Members Group leaders need to: Understand that many people from marginalized groups have been hurt and are often suspicious and tentative in their participation. Remember not to stereotype. There is as much diversity within groups as there is between groups. Be culturally sensitive to issues of self-disclosure. Some cultures view this as a form of weakness or betrayal. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Group Work With Marginalized Members Group leaders need to: Ask the person how he or she wants to be identified. Group leaders don’t apply their own labels or make assumptions. Be aware of the power differential as a group leader and how that might be perceived if the counselor is of the majority culture and group member(s) are from a minority culture(s). “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Group Work With Marginalized Members Group Leaders need to: Be aware of the level of acculturation and cultural identity of individual group members. Not attending to this information increases the likelihood that the marginalized person will feel misunderstood and will drop out or have a negative experience. The process of empowerment is important in marginalized groups otherwise the oppression is perpetuated. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Group Work With Marginalized Members It is important for white counselors to be aware of white privilege. It is important not to be color-blind or act like race does not matter. It is the polar opposite of racism and even though usually done though good intentions, can have similar hurtful effects because it shows lack of respect for culture. Group leaders of any ethnic background face challenges when leading a racially mixed group. It is important to validate a group member’s feelings and point of view although you may not agree with it. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Group Guidance Related to Race and Ethnicity Issues of race and ethnicity can be explored in groups especially in schools. Counselors can help by: Helping members accept and appreciate differences in others. Teaching appropriate terminology when discussing diversity issues. Helping members explore their own biases and prejudices. Teaching about diverse cultures and ethnic groups. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
Diversity Issues in Group Counseling Becoming a Multiculturally Competent Group Leader Educate yourself (e.g. read literature, attend workshops, or classes that focus on other cultures and ethnicities). Identify your own racial or ethnic origin and the privileges or liabilities that have historically come with it. Understand ethnocentrism in the mental health field. Visit and get to know people from outside your own group. “Copyright © Allyn & Bacon 2004”
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