Social and Cultural Diversity

Cultural competence is a crucial prerequisite for all professional counselors as the population gets more diverse. One must identify their values, experiences, attitudes, and behaviors that may affect how they engage with customers in order to become culturally competent (Lee, 2013). In this essay, I discuss personal biases that might affect how I approach counseling as well as events, memories, and personal histories that might have an impact on my work. I also examine the idea of racism, with a focus on subliminal racism, as well as the many codes of ethics that would direct my professional conduct. My cultural and ethnicity has predisposed me to several personal biases. As an African American woman, I have experienced and witnessed numerous incidents that have influenced how I perceive or interact with other people, particularly those not from my race. For instance, I have noticed that unconsciously think certain things such as Hispanics and Orientals drive horrible and can cause accidents after my fiancée was killed by a reckless Hispanic driver. I am also guilty of saying if you are born white you are automatically privileged while Blacks have poor socioeconomic backgrounds. I know that this type of thinking is extremely harsh, but society has conditioned individuals to have specific attitudes toward those of a different culture. I am aware that this is so wrong, but being self-aware of my present biases will allow me to not project them on to my client’s. While incorporating different types of theory approaches, I can have the self-awareness of the different cultural diversities of my clients. I do feel that one of my challenges is when I am perceived as ignorant or uneducated due to my race thus a woman. I still am hopeful that I can be effective despite my challenges with my current biases because it does not define who I am.

Experiences with discrimination

Although highly open cases of discrimination and racism have declined in the United States, subtle forms of discrimination are rampant (Williams, 2011). I have continuously endured discrimination within the workplace before being employed at the prison. For instance, immediately when President Obama was elected, a colleague often made derogatory and racist comments to me. He would intentionally leave demeaning notes or jokes on my desk at the change of shifts. I was the only African American Woman on the shift and the jokes infuriated me. Despite presenting all the evidence for the management, the harasser was not vindicated and it is only after he was caught drunk on the job that he was suspended. The incident affected how I interact with people of his race because I assume they have the same perception toward me. One of the most infuriating discriminating and racist incident occurred to my youngest child. A bunch of white girls in her grade called her “black ugly monkeys”, spit in her hair and abused her physically. One student told my child “do you know how to keep a black person out your front yard by hanging a noose in it”. It hurt me to the core to explain that the children who she thought were her friends were not her friends, just because of her skin color. There was also a time I had to explain to my oldest son that being categorized as black did not literally mean the color of his skin color. Similar to most women of my race, I have to continuously prove my capability despite having the same qualifications as other individuals. Although I strive to remain as objective as possible, some of these experiences have influenced how I perceive others and how I interact with them. However, my strong religious roots have shaped my values and attitudes. I am cultured to respect everyone and respect our differences.

Interaction with culturally different people

I have worked with culturally-diverse institutions and interacted with numerous people of different cultures at the community level. I can say one of my present coworkers is going through the same thing at work after she addressed another coworker regarding a statement she made that Asian women are aggressive and unprofessional. After our coworker brought it to the attention of my Asian coworker they had already reprimanded her for being insubordinate to another worker. The issues that were present were the perception she had along with failing to disclose her comments was unfair and one-sided. The Asian woman was very respectful and appropriate when addressing them after the incident but instead of properly investigating the administrators gave her time off without pay. This older Asian woman is the sweetest individual you would ever meet. The second issue I had was other individuals were offended about the statements, but the reprimand was only one sided. She said she has continuously been treated in this manner due to her race and is currently going to quit the job due to this incident. My personal experiences with people from different cultures and communities have given me a different perspective from which I view social and cultural matters. I now understand that some people act in a certain manner and face a lot of criticism without the people knowing that it might be there communities and ethnic backgrounds. It is therefore important to understand such like people and offer to them counselling so that they may change their perceptions. I now know the reason why some people treat people from different cultures differently and I can use personal experiences to counsel affected victims.

Impact of life experiences on my interactions with others

My experiences with other cultures have made me self-aware of the obvious biases that I may hold. Although I am vulnerable to be a subtle racist due to negative interactions with any members of different cultures, I have learned not to generalize my attitudes. I developed a unique personality that is not completely defined by my specific culture or race. Some of the factors that contribute to differences in perceptions include religion, level of education of the people interacting, cultural backgrounds of individuals, social class and gender of the individual. My mother cultured me to maintain composure in high emotional or stressful situations. I also have learned over the years that people will always be different and as a counselor and a human being you have to remain open minded and culturally competent to be effective in life. I also try to not be judgmental or biased when dealing with others who have a biased perception of certain groups, but this is and will continue to be a tremendous challenge for me. I will continue to have an open mind and treat other individuals how I want to be treated with respect and dignity despite their worldviews.

Part 2

Subtle racism

According to Yoo, Steger and Lee (2010), social psychologists incidences of subtle racism are complex and difficult to highlight or identify because they operate unconsciously, unintentionally, and implicitly. It involves omissions, failure to assist or help, inaction, instead of a conscious desire to harm. For instance, a meta-analysis conducted by Liao, Hong and Rounds (2016) reported that although Whites express no racist attitudes toward African-Americans, they are more likely to rationalize decisions not to help African Americans (e.g. If helping involved time, efforts or risks) as compared with their willingness to help other whites. Sue et al (2014) used focus group discussion to explore the persistence of racial micro-aggression among black participants. The focus-group analysis reported six main themes that represent subtle racism and unintentional discrimination. They include the assumption that African-Americans are intellectually inferior, criminals, second-class citizens, inferior, they have the same experience and superiority of white cultural values or communication style. Sue et al (2014) reported that black Americans are assumed to be inferior intellectually, they are poor at articulating their issues and they lack common sense. For instance, respondents reported of numerous incidents where they were told “you speak so well in the work place.” The comment indicates that being a good speaker is considered an exception among people of the same race. Additionally the study (Sue et al, 2014) reported that African Americans were more likely to be perceived as potential criminals and vulnerable to exhibiting violent or antisocial behaviors. The assumption of inferior status is also a common form of subtle racism.

Minority groups, including African Americans, are believed to be inferior (Shallcross, 2013). For instance, they are assumed to have low paying jobs, poor and uncultured. As a result, the quality of services they may receive might be inferior or not up-to-the standard. Subtle racism may impact the practice of counselors. For example, although a counselor may not communicate that an African American is a second class citizen, he or she may indirectly infer lower status (Williams, 2011). A therapist may make assumptions about the education level and economic status upon hearing the voice of an applicant. Such kind of racial discrimination is regarded as a micro-aggression according to psychology because in such a case, people whom subtle racism is done to do not realize they are being discriminated against (Sue et al. 2014). Therefore, most of the times people going from subtle racism do not understand that they are being discriminated against and thus identifying the nature of subtle racism in such cases is almost impossible.

Differences in perceptions and values of members within the same ethnic group

One of the major challenge counselors make is to overgeneralize issues about a specific culture or ethnic group as applicable to all members of the specific ethnic group or culture. A single commonality may be presumed to exist among members of the culture because it has been observed in a few members of the group. However, belonging to a specific race or culture does not require an individual to sacrifice his or her individualism or uniqueness. Although culture is one of the dominant factors that affect an individual’s values and attitudes, there are other variables that affect values and attitudes. These include variables such as gender, social class, religion and level of ability. A personal identity is shaped by internal factors within a specific ethnicity, relations with a different or “adversary” ethnic group, and the social environment (Leary & Tangney, 2012). In counseling, it is critical to understand that an individual may develop certain values and attitudes as a result of how they relate to other ethnic groups. For example, in case two ethnic groups are viewed to be in adversarial relation, their members are likely to have negative attitudes toward each other. An individual who has had a negative interaction with a member of a different ethnic group is likely to hold stronger negative attitudes toward the other ethnic group compared to one who have never had a negative experience. Similarly, the social context influence values and attitudes through social modeling. For instance, a child may be modeled by the family to exhibit certain values which may be different from the dominant values of the specific culture.

Part 3

ACA and NAADAC codes of ethics

Section A.4 of the ACA codes of ethics requires therapists to avoid harming their clients and also not to impose their values on them. In section A.4 (b) counselors are expected to be cognizant of their values, attitudes, beliefs and behaviors and not to impose these values on their clients (American Counseling Association, 2014). They are expected to respect diversity among clients and trainees. In section B. 1, ACA describes how counselors should act so as to respect and maintain client rights. It requires therapists and counselors to maintain awareness and sensitivity of cultural meanings and implications of confidentiality and privacy (B.1.a). These codes will inform my cultural competence and the responsibility to ensure I don’t impose my values and attitudes and values to my clients. The codes of ethics will work to streamline my career in such a way that all the issues of counselling and diversity will be looked at from a wider perspective so as to come up with well-informed decisions on how to counsel clients.

Addiction counselors are guided by the NAADAC code of ethics. NAADAC codes of ethics demand that addiction professional ought to appreciate the enormous role that culture and ethnicity play in defining one’s perceptions and values. Code V of the NAADAC code of ethics requires addiction counselors to persistently acknowledge that individuals may have indirect or non-obvious disabilities. In order to be effective counselling and better assist the clients, I will require a sense of self-awareness, strive to achieve the highest level of cultural competence, and maintain emotional objectivity during my interactions with a client. The codes also require me to practice tolerance, patience and be aware of attitudes and values that may have been shaped by my cultural experiences. Culturally-sensitive counseling services take into account cultural values, differences in cultural experiences and value differences between the counselor and client (Wing & Sue, 2016). Being culturally-sensitive is critical in developing an effective treatment plan. As a counselor, it is fundamental own cultural heritage and world views before assisting other people.


American Counseling Association: Code of Ethics. (2014). Retrieved from on 3/7/2017

La H., Hong Y & Rounds J (2016). Perception of subtle racism: The role of group status and legitimizing ideologies. The Counseling psychologist Vol.. 44 (2) 237-266.

Leary M & Tangney J (2012). The handbook of self and identity. The Guildford Press.

Lee, C. (2013). Multicultural Issues in Counseling. Retrieved from

MacLeod, B. (2014, January 27). Addressing clients' prejudices in counseling - Counseling Today. Retrieved from

Shallcross, L. (2013, September 1). Multicultural competence: A continual pursuit - Counseling Today. Retrieved from

Sue D., Kevin L., Christina M., Annie I., Gina C & Rivera D (2014). Racial micro-aggressions against black Americans: Implications for counseling. Retrieved from

Williams, M. (2011, November 2). Why African Americans Avoid Psychotherapy | Psychology Today. Retrieved from

Williams, M. (2013, June 30). How Therapists Drive Away Minority Clients. Retrieved from

Wing Sue, D & Sue, D. (2016).  Counseling The Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice (7th Edition).  Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Yoo H & Steger M (2010). Validation of The Subtle And Blatant Racism Scale For Asian American College Students. Cultural diversity and ethnic minority psychology, Vol 16. (3): 323-334.

Deadline is approaching?

Wait no more. Let us write you an essay from scratch

Receive Paper In 3 Hours
Calculate the Price
275 words
First order 15%
Total Price:
$38.07 $38.07
Calculating ellipsis
Hire an expert
This discount is valid only for orders of new customer and with the total more than 25$
This sample could have been used by your fellow student... Get your own unique essay on any topic and submit it by the deadline.

Find Out the Cost of Your Paper

Get Price