This moth has been interesting in many ways for my personal growth and also for my counselling practice. I attended a lecture on diversity in the classroom with the local school board as I have started to offer groups for youth with disabilities and also working closely with the LGBTQ community. It was interesting different perspectives the teachers, the counselors and the school administration brought forth in their discussions. I found myself questioning that no matter how much we are trying to promote diversity, we usually focus on the diversity of our clients-When we talk abut working from an anti oppressive framework, we talk about the clients and often forget that we as educators, mentors, counselors also brings a range of diversity issues to the space, into the sessions.,
Every counsellor brings their physical appearance and culture into the room at the same time as the clients do. Is what one of the speakers shared. How I look, how I speak, how I act upon my suggestions), does have a profound effect on the interactions in my sessions. And more than once I have been aware of possible reactions among the clients to my race, gender, age, ethnicity, physical attributes, and abilities. Clients have not engaged with me wins session not because of any counselling issue but because I am either a woman, or have an ethnic background or do not have any visible disability and other perceptions. Have I felt offended—yes and no—yes…because I have felt inadequate sometimes-I am human after all and perhaps a part of time wants to say that I am a good counsellor, what has my diversity got to do anything with it….but I have also learned to prepare for such reactions and knowing that my practice will involve not only knowing as much as you can about my clients , but also turning the mirror to myself , and finding out more about my own diversity issues.
So here are questions that the presenters left us with to reflect on by reminding us that we might identify our own attitudes toward diversity by remembering certain pivotal moments in our lives by asking ourselves the following questions:
Recall the incident in which you first became aware of differences. What was your reaction? Were you the focus of attention or were others? How did that affect how you reacted to the situation?
What are the “messages” that you learned about various “minorities” or “majorities” when you were a child? At home? In school? Have your views changed considerably since then? Why or why not?
Recall an experience in which your own difference put you in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the people directly around you. What was that difference? How did it affect you?
How do your memories of differences affect you today? How do they (or might they) affect your practice?
I hope that we will spend some time in our practice from time to time to ponder on these questions and tweak if we needed to work on our personal diverse attitude inventory.
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA