Dec 19, 2014

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Being Culturally Competent as a Latina Mental Health Professional

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As a Latina mental health professional, I will be faced daily with the challenge of making a culturally relevant diagnosis with each individual client that I provide clinical services to. In making a culturally relevant diagnosis, a professional counselor is ethically obligated to begin with an understanding of the influences that describe identities, strengths, and contexts pertaining to the client. The client’s comprehensive make up must be understood without bias.

Being A Culturally Competent Mental Health Professional

Cultural competency must incorporate the ability to consider problems associated with age and generation, possible disabilities, religious influences and identity, racial and ethnic identities, sexual orientation and gender identity or expressions, and socioeconomic status. It is very important that as a professional addressing the needs of multicultural communities that I intentionally and mindfully consider the client’s conceptualization of the problem and not impose my own perception of what his or her presenting problem is, and more importantly, not impose my personal views and belief systems about it. Once I, as a counselor, have been able to do so, it then becomes my duty to explain my diagnosis and possible treatment plan in a very clear way to my client.

As a clinical counselor I should be a good match with my clients. I should be able to understand their perspective and be familiar with their frame of reference. I must also be as prejudice-bias free as possible about customs within other cultures. For example, I am ethically bound to use interpreters in my first session with clients when English is not their first language to ensure that I am culturally competent prior to starting the session with the client.

The Risks of Being A Culturally Incompetent Mental Health Professional

I must also research and learn about the cultures that I have within my diverse clientele and learn the clients’ detailed history, cultural identity and context prior to beginning a counseling session. Not taking any of these steps can lead to a bad experience for the client who may choose not to continue or return to counseling or seek help elsewhere in the future. I can also inadvertently cause the client irreparable damage. This is unacceptable because above all else, I have taken the Hippocratic Oath to “Do No Harm”.

Reference:

            Sue, Derald Wing,  David Sue. Counseling the Culturally Diverse, 5th Edition. John Wiley & Sons P&T. <vbk:9780470936641#page(107)>.

 

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Xiomara A. Sosa

Xiomara A. Sosa

Xiomara A. Sosa is Founder and Principal of XAS Consulting, LLC (XAS), a boutique hybrid private practice she founded in 2003 to integrate the role of mental health, physical health, and human services efforts in providing culturally competent services to the Hispanic, veteran and sexual minority (LGBTQQIA) communities and to first and second responders. Xiomara is a clinical mental health – forensic counselor, a nonprofit executive, a social change advocate, and a United States military veteran. She provides clinical mental health-forensic counseling; community relations; disaster mental health; healthcare advocacy; therapeutic life coaching; and service to the armed forces. Xiomara practices a progressive, innovative path to integrative health by combining mental healthcare, physical healthcare, and human services. As an integrative healthcare provider she works with individuals, couples and families of mixed ages and genders. She is bilingual (Spanish) and provides services in private consultation, by telephone or electronically. As a multicultural counselor her cultural competency is especially focused on working with the Hispanic, veteran, and sexual and gender minority (LGBTQQIA) communities. Full bio at http://xasconsulting.com/?page_id=195

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