So in class we were assigned to read about multicultural counseling competencies [See the important book by Sue here from google books]. I wrote the below assigned reflection for class (our accountability that we are reading). My professor wants to talk more with me about it. I think for however much I like my first counselor I have some things to work out regarding how I was counseled regarding being gay. It's really hard for me to talk about because I respect him and like him a ton. AND.......
I can tell this class is going to be challenging for me. This week in particular the three articles we read on multicultural counseling competencies brought into focus a question I've been living with for a while and that is: "Is cross-cultural competency even possible?" I am a bit jaded I think. Ultimately striving to be anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti- can only help counseling. And yes it is really important. But, I keep thinking of times when for all a counselors good intentions they ultimately "do harm" anyway accidentally because multicultural counseling competencies are so fluid and complex that despite best intentions they fail anyway.
Some days I think the ultimate competency is referring, and sometimes doing what is not recommended, naming what you believe or think even if it sounds racist or ignorant so that the client knows they need to find another counselor. Obviously this is triggered by the intersection between my own experience and reading these articles.
From a racial and ethnic point of view I am not convinced that systematic racism can ever be overcome. It's so prevalent in our society and in the structures of power how can in not negatively impact the counseling relationship when a white counselor is counseling a client of another ethnicity. For all my education, racial righteousness bus trips to the south, and training on fighting racism and power and systems I still find it scary to think of how I would counsel someone, no matter my competencies. I hope this class helps me with some of this fear.
And on a totally different cultural issue, I feel strongly about referring as the ultimate cultural competency because of the many Christian counselors who try and "change" their gay and lesbian clients. For years I saw a Christian counselor who believed homosexuality was sin. Which is one thing in a church and an entirely different thing in a counseling office. For quite a while I was trying to heal or change and not able to accept being gay was part of my identity so that was fine. But ultimately I think it did me harm because he did not refer me.
Eventually he told me how he thought and I was able to quit and find another counselor. This decreased my self hate. It took me years longer to accept myself because I wasn't referred and because I did not know what he really thought. And he did actually follow the multicultural competencies in many ways. And he was a really great counselor AND I feel bad about even posting this.