Multiculturalism: Culture and Social Workers Essay
Multiculturalism refers to a society that recognizes values and promotes the contributions of the diverse cultural heritages and ancestries of its entire people. A multicultural society is one that continually evolves and is strengthened by the contribution of its diverse peoples. It dictates that SSW has to be culturally competence in order to truly meet the needs of diverse and growing communities.
Cultural competence refers to the process by which individuals and systems respond respectfully and effectively to people of all cultures, languages, classes, races, ethnic backgrounds, religions, and other diversity factors in a manner that recognizes, affirms, and values the worth of individuals, families, and communities and protects and preserves the dignity of each. Cultural competence is a set of congruent behaviours, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system or agency or among professionals and enable the system, agency, or professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
In discussing cultural competence this paper will prove that without awareness of one’s one cultural worldview, positive attitudes towards cultural differences and knowledge of different cultural practices and worldviews many people in the greater multicultural society will be underserved and unfairly treated. The goal of multiculturalism is to increase knowledge, awareness, empathy and respect for different cultures. One of the challenges many individuals experience in recognizing and valuing other cultures is that they do not have an awareness of themselves as cultural beings.
SSW needs to be culturally aware in order to increase their effectiveness in their jobs and to reduce conflicts, misunderstandings and most importantly, stress. Awareness requires that SSW examine their myths, attitudes, beliefs, stereotypes and worldview. In Canada, we live in a multicultural and multilingual society. We see and interact with Asians, African Americans, Africans, Native Americans and people of many other nationalities. As a result, we must create an environment where we can work, serve, educate and communicate with culturally diverse people.
We can do this by increasing our knowledge, understanding and respect for other cultures – by noting our differences and learning how to work with one another. This can be done through awareness training, which is an effective method of promoting multicultural understanding. SSW can begin to increase their awareness by learning about the verbal and nonverbal communication styles of different cultures. The verbal communication of a culture may be direct (assertive) or indirect (non assertive), boisterous or silent. Another difference can be found In African cultures, where dialogue may sound more intimidating than it actually is.
This may be attributed to the language difference. The fact that English is a second language in this culture suggests that SSW need to be aware of the tone and inflections used in a culture’s language. SSW should be aware that client from African American, Asian or African cultures who exhibit these verbal styles are simply reflecting the patterns of their culture not reacting to the SSW personally. Therefore, the perception that the client’s loud, boisterous or intimidating communication style is disrespectful may be simply a matter of cultural differences.
SSW should also be aware of what is valued in a culture. In some cultures, religion is highly regarded. For example, in African American cultures, there is a great deal of respect for religion and spirituality. With this in mind, the SSW may seek assistance from the client’s minister, priest or spiritual leader when handling clients from these backgrounds. In addition, Cultural competence requires social workers to examine their own cultural backgrounds and identities to increase awareness of personal assumptions, values, and biases.
The workers’ self-awareness of their own cultural identities is as fundamental to practice as the informed assumptions about clients’ cultural backgrounds and experiences in the United States. This awareness of personal values, beliefs, and biases inform their practice and influence relationships with clients. Cultural competence includes knowing and acknowledging how fears, ignorance, and the “isms” (racism, sexism, ethnocentrism, ageism, and classism) have influenced their attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. be aware of the value of family among different cultures.
Social workers need to be able to move from being culturally aware of their own heritage to becoming culturally aware of the heritage of others. They can value and celebrate differences in others rather than maintain an ethnocentric stance and can demonstrate comfort with differences between themselves and others. They have an awareness of personal and professional limitations that may warrant the referral of a client to another social worker or agency that can best meet the clients’ needs. Self-awareness also helps in understanding the process of cultural identity ormation and helps guard against stereotyping. As one develops the diversity within one’s own group, one can be more open to the diversity within other groups. Social workers trained in cultural competence can help adoptive parents understand their adopted child’s cultural heritage and create activities to keep the child’s culture alive. Adding this dimension to the child’s assimilation can foster the youngster’s sense of identity and make the adoption experience a smoother and happier one for both parents and child.
For Asian Americans, families are their primary source of support; thusly, they tend to keep problems inside the family rather than sharing them with others. A social worker who is culturally competent will therefore provide brief, task-oriented therapy that respects their privacy and helps them achieve concrete goals, instead of providing traditional Western-style therapy that is more individualistic and analytical. Similarly, African Americans often come from backgrounds that include extended-family bonds and a strong, community-oriented spiritual life.
Trained social workers will make sure these cultural realities become an integral part of therapy by often times including other family members in therapy. Culturally competent services are needed beyond race and ethnicity. Culturally competent social workers are also better able to address issues of gender and help persons with disabilities, older adults, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people. A working knowledge of these groups’ cultures and values helps social workers tailor care so it is effective and appropriate for their clients’ needs.
It can be persuasively argued that effective care is impossible without a working knowledge and understanding of a person’s or group’s culture and background. As we move into an ever more pluralistic and multicultural society, social workers are among those best-equipped to deliver that care and to empower people from all backgrounds to lead connected, healthy lives. These differences may influence the way the SSW responds to a client due to a lack of knowledge about the meaning of the verbal or nonverbal communication in that culture.
Social workers need to possess specific knowledge about the particular providers and client groups they work with, including the range of historical experiences, resettlement patterns, individual and group oppression, adjustment styles, socioeconomic backgrounds, life processes, learning styles, cognitive skills, worldviews and specific cultural customs and practices, their definition of and beliefs about the causation of wellness and illness or normality and abnormality, and how care and services should be delivered.
They also must seek specialized knowledge about Canada’s social, cultural, and political systems, how they operate, and how they serve or fail to serve specific client groups. This includes knowledge of institutional, class, culture, and language barriers that prevent diverse client group members from using services. Cultural competence requires explicit knowledge of traditional theories and principles concerning such areas as human behaviour, life cycle development, problem-solving skills, prevention, and rehabilitation.
Social workers need the critical skill of asking the right questions, being comfortable with discussing cultural differences, and asking clients about what works for them and what is comfortable for them in these discussions. Furthermore, culturally competent social workers need to know the limitations and strengths of current theories, processes and practice models, and which have specific applicability and relevance to the service needs of culturally diverse client groups.
Social workers need to take every opportunity to expand their cultural knowledge and expertise by expanding their understanding of the following areas: “the impact of culture on behaviour, attitudes, and values; the help-seeking behaviours of diverse client groups; the role of language, speech patterns, and communication styles of various client groups in the communities served; the impact of social service policies on various client groups; the resources (agencies, people, informal helping networks, and research) that can be used on behalf of diverse client groups; the ways that professional values may conflict with or accommodate the needs of diverse client groups; and the power relationships in the community, agencies, or institutions and their impact on diverse client groups”.
Social workers need to possess specific knowledge about the particular providers and client groups they work with, including the range of historical experiences, resettlement patterns, individual and group oppression, adjustment styles, socioeconomic backgrounds, life processes, learning styles, cognitive skills, worldviews and specific cultural customs and practices, their definition of and beliefs about the causation of wellness and illness or normality and abnormality, and how care and services should be delivered. They also must seek specialized knowledge about U. S. social, cultural, and political systems, how they operate, and how they serve or fail to serve specific client groups.
This includes knowledge of institutional, class, culture, and language barriers that prevent diverse client group members from using services. Cultural competence is never fully realized, achieved, or completed, but rather cultural competence is a lifelong process for social workers who will always encounter diverse clients and new situations in their practice. Supervisors and workers should have the expectation that cultural competence is an ongoing learning process integral and central to daily supervision Developing cultural competence results in an ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.