Tag Archives: Reflective practice

Reflective Practice from a Cultural Standpoint

Posted by: Amal Souraya on January 5, 2016 9:59 am

diversity.relfective.practiceMany of us are cognitively aware of the importance of reflective practice in our work with clients. Reflective practice allows us to stop for a moment and look back at our past actions and experiences in a critical and effortful way. Although reflective practice is beneficial when working with clients in general, I believe it especially important when working with clients from cultures much different than our own. According to the American Psychological Association, it is imperative for psychologists to recognize themselves as cultural beings and as such hold attitudes and beliefs that may inadvertently influence clients that come from a different background. Psychologists, like others, are shaped by their worldviews, ethnicity, culture, heritage, past experiences, family dynamics, nationalities, age, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, media influences, education and other significant culturally related dynamics. Hence, it is advisable to recognize this phenomenon when working with clients in general, but particularly with those who may have a cultural framework that is vastly different than the therapists’. This allows counsellors to be more cautious of their own agenda in the counselling relationship. Additionally, it increases the likelihood that the client will feel comfortable and heard in therapy.

If counsellors fail to view the client relationship from a cultural lens, then some detrimental consequences may occur. A common cultural error that many western therapists make is applying individualistic ideologies to clients who come from collectivistic cultures. For example, in many collectivist cultures the family and the group are more important than the individual himself/herself. Hence, if a therapist were to be working with an individual from a collectivist culture and attempted to counsel this client in ways that were more in-line with an individualistic standpoint, then this could potentially really harm not only the therapeutic relationship, but possibly interfere with that client and his relationship to others in his life.

I am aware that it is impossible to take “ourselves” completely out of the therapeutic process, therefore it is of utmost importance to engage in reflective practice and understand our presence during interactions with clients and how our own worldviews and ways of being may interfere with the therapeutic process. Once we do this we begin to learn more about ourselves; about how our culture is influencing our work with others; and ultimately how we can be more culturally sensitive and present for the clients that we serve.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Reflective Practice: An Essential Part of Developing Cultural Competency

Posted by: Lori Walls on June 22, 2011 2:10 pm

 Most school counsellor’s approach their jobs with the goal of wanting to helping students achieve their best in academics, adaptive functioning, and social competencies. It is my belief that to do this requires the school counsellor to commit to a regime of reflective practice which can be a difficult task. I recall the first time that I encountered a culture competency model of counselling and was asked to identify my biases to my fellow classmates. My immediate reaction was that I didn’t have any biases and that I would be willing to work with any student on any issue. Upon further questioning and reflection I realized that having biases is unavoidable and that one of the most important aspects of being a counsellor is to acknowledge and exam our world views to develop an understanding of how those views shape our practice perspectives and influence our interactions with students. Sue and Sue (2002) described culturally competent counsellors as having an awareness of their own assumptions, values, and beliefs, having knowledge about the worldviews of others, as well as possessing the skill necessary to use therapeutic modalities and interventions that are most appropriate for the individual client. Schools are a microcosm that reflects the ever changing and growing diversity in today’s society and as such it is more important than ever that counsellors commit to deepening our understanding of ourselves and the impact our views have on our interactions and interventions with students.

As this week marks the beginning of PRIDE week in Toronto and the topic of this blog is about developing competency when working with diverse populations, I started thinking about the importance of the school counsellor in helping to create and maintain the school as a safe and supportive place for all students.  The following link is to a guide created by Wells and Tsutsumi (2005) titled, Creating Safe, Caring and Inclusive Schools for LGBTQ Students.  I found the guide useful in helping to understand the needs of LGBTQ students.  The guide offers information, strategies and ethical guidelines to help school counsellors develop supports, services, and interventions for LGBTQ students.


Sue, D., & Sue, D. (2002). Counselling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice. NY: John Wiley & Sons.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA