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