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From Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice
There is much truth in the saying that no two individuals are identical. We are all unique biologically, and recent breakthroughs in mapping the human genome have provided some startling findings. Biologists,
anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists had looked to the Human Genome Project to provide insights into comparative and evolutionary biology that would allow us to find the secrets to life. Although the project has provided valuable answers to many questions, scientists have discovered even more complex questions. For example, they had expected to find 100,000 genes in the human genome, but only about 20,000 were initially found, with the possible existence of another 5,000—only two or three times more than are found in a fruit fly or a nematode worm. In fact, only 300 unique genes distinguish us from the mouse, making us about 85% identical! Although it may be a blow to human dignity, the important question is how so relatively few genes can account for our humanness.
All individuals are, in some respects, like no other individuals
Likewise, if so few genes can determine such great differences between species, what about within the species? Human inheritance almost guarantees differences, because no two individuals ever share the same genetic endowment. Further, no two of us share the exact same experiences in our society. Even identical twins, who theoretically share the same gene pool and are raised in the same family, are exposed to both shared and non-shared experiences. Different experiences in school and with peers, as well as qualitative differences in how parents treat them, will contribute to individual uniqueness. Research indicates that psychological characteristics, behavior, and mental disorders are more affected by experiences specific to a child than are shared experiences.
Levels of Counseling Interventions
When the focus of therapy is primarily on the individual, there is a strong tendency to see the locus of the problem as residing solely in the person rather than in the school system, organization, or wider community. As a result, well‐intentioned counselors may mistakenly blame the victim (e.g., by seeing the problem as a deficiency of the person) when, in actuality, the problem may reside in the environment (prejudice, discrimination, racial/cultural invalidation, etc.)
Race and culture are a critical piece of a client’s narrative
Mental health practice has been characterized as primarily a White male middle class activity that is based on values that include rugged individualism, individual responsibility, and autonomy. Within this framework, the traditional therapist’s role is to encourage self‐exploration so that the client can act on his or her own behalf. Within this individual‐centered approach, problems are generally assumed to reside within the clients themselves, and clients should be helped to take responsibility for them in order to change them. However, many problems encountered by marginalized clients actually reside externally to them (such as bias, discrimination, and prejudice). Such clients should not be faulted for encountering these obstacles, nor for the emotions that they experience as a consequence.
Publisher : Wiley; Revised and Updated edition (May 22 2012)
Language : English
Paperback : 320 pages
ISBN-10 : 1118232607
ISBN-13 : 978-1118232606
Item weight : 363 g
Dimensions : 15.24 x 2.79 x 22.61 cm