As a counsellor working in a vibrant multicultural environment, I have encountered many diverse cultures over the course of my career and I still rember my early experiences working with people from diverse cultures and some of the the misunderstandings it often created. Having started my career in Toronto, I was thrilled to be able to use my training as well as my expereince of being a ‘global citizen’…..but I came to realize soon enough that I was not reaching certain cultural groups in a way that felt comfortable to me and I knew that I needed to find out why. I was defining working with cultres based on race and ethnicity and did not include people with disabilities or sexual orientations or even belonging to different social economic groups as being diverse. I was encouraged by my supervisor to expand my horizons or have a ‘Paradigm Shift’ (made popular by the late Steven Covey) in my thought process. I had to make lots of changes and shift gears and understand how my counselling practice will be defined by the existing cutural diversity in Toronto. I began to read up on the literature available on how people with disabilities or the LGBTQ community perceive counselling and how it is important to respect and understand why certain clients would only want to work with a counsellor from their background….Yes, at that time, I could not understand why my experience was not good enough and why I had to belong to a certain culture to work with certain clients…… Now it is a different story, I understand the “whys” and do not doubt my copmpetency as respect when clients do not choose me once they find out who or what I am not…..and that’s okay….I think this is just one small example of how important it is to recognize and learn about the cultural diversity of clients when offering counselling without any bias or judgement.
Priya Senroy , MA CCC
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA