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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The World in our Hands

According to APA, Psychological service providers need a socio-cultural framework to consider diversity of values, interactional styles, and cultural expectations in a systematic fashion. They need knowledge and skills for multicultural assessment and intervention, including abilities to:

1. Recognize cultural diversity.

2. Understand the role that culture and ethnicity/race play in the socio-psychological and economic development of ethnic and culturally diverse populations.

3. Understand that socioeconomic and political factors significantly impact the psychosocial, political and economic development of ethnic and culturally diverse groups.

4. Help clients to understand/maintain/resolve their own sociocultural identification; and understand the interaction of culture, gender, and sexual orientation on behavior and needs.

In previous classes, we discussed how the ethnic breakdown of school psychologists is predominantly Caucasian women compared to the diverse and ever changing population that they serve. Taking that into consideration it definitely triggers an alarm that we need to educate ourselves and continuously re-educate ourselves on the customs, beliefs, religious values, and level of acculturation of our clients. But is that enough to ensure that our clients continuously receive the best care? Do you think that you are prepared to enter a culturally diverse school system and provide each student with the appropriate care without bias?

NASP defines cultural competence as a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals and enables that system, agency, or those professionals to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. How can you prepare yourself during the practicum and internship experiences to achieve a level of cultural competence?

This blog was created by Katie Blades.


MikeC said...

One way to attempt to gain a "working" level of cultural competence during practicum or internship experiences is simply by exposure to different cultures, races, socio-economic populations, etc. during that time period. I would prefer to work under a school psychologist who has had experience working with children and families with different ethnic backgrounds so I can learn and gain that knowledge compared to working in a district that may have a better reputation but is 96% caucasian and all of the children and parents are "cookie cutter". That is not going to help me become a better school psychologist in the long run.

judy said...

I receive regular educational emails from NEA, including the Opening Bell, which highlights educational topics in the news. One of this morning’s was about the cultural barrier that was keeping Chinese and Korean parents from becoming involved in their children’s’ educations. The article talks about running parent academies, giving free English lessons, and forming multicultural advisory committees. The superintendent became aware of a decrease in parental involvement as the demographics of the town changed predominantly Jewish and Italian to predominantly Jewish, Chinese and Korean. Because the super embraces parental involvement as a crucial aspect in educational and social success, he worked to increase the level of parental involvement. One of the things he did was institute the above mentioned English lessons; he used federal grants to help pay for the program. This program is so important to the community because the parents site not being able to speak English well as one of the primary reasons they are not more involved. They are embarrassed, and as we have learned, saving face is very import in the Asian community. One involved mother was uncomfortable at first, then grew to embrace and advocate parental participation. She is quoted in the article “…schools provide an opportunity for immigrant families to grow roots and feel like they really belong to the community.” The article ends by alluding to good parenting skills, and how it crosses cultural barriers. So, if they can make the effort to break down cultural barriers, so can we, AND we can help other do it too.

to answer Katie's the question, i think we can be prepared by continually examining cultural issues, gainig knowledge, and by welcoming new situations. everything is a learning opportunity. more importantly, we would be wise to remember that each case is different, and we shouldn't assume that the cultural styles we read about apply to every person of a particular group i.e. we may very well encounter outspoken, individualistic asians, or shy, introverted causasians. j

judy said...

check out the article: As Asians Excel at L.I. School, District Tries to Lure Parents
from November 12, 2008 New York Times www.nytmes.com

Anonymous said...

I just encountered a case that was so clearly a culturally issue but was treated according to “American” norms. DYFS was called on a family from Zimbabwe due to the home environment’s presentation and “cleanliness”.

However, it seemed that the practitioner failed to acknowledge that health and cleanliness is not a universal priority. It is likely that this practitioner may have mistaken the stains on the carpet or coloring on the walls in the child’s bedroom as a sign of neglect. However, it would have been beneficial if this practitioner understood that in Zimbabwe, a house with walls is priority rather than the cleanliness.

Moreover, this practitioner reported, “They didn’t even own a vacuum”. Well, as an immigrant family, a vacuum may not be first priority in terms of financial spending. It is likely that in their country a vacuum may be considered a luxury. Moreover, it is likely that they may not have to financial means in order to purchase a vacuum cleaner.

It felt almost surreal as I was heard her promulgate, “…These people are filthy…”. I couldn’t believe that people STILL do not consider cultural influences on people’s behaviors and lifestyles.

It is very likely that we will not be prepared to deal with the vast cultural differences that exit in our country. However, if we are aware that a difference exits between us and our clients, this is the first step. I feel that the best way to learn about another person’s culture is to ask. This not only will help you understand the differences that exit between the client-therapist dyad as well as help you build rapport with the client. The mere act of questioning will convey interest in the whole person and what they are influenced by. This is not to say that a practitioner should ask, do you do that because you are ____. Rather, “I am not familiar with the idiosyncrasies of your culture, would you mind telling me some more so that I can understand about your culture….

Wouldn’t this make you feel that someone was very interested in you? It is likely that your client will as well!

In essence, be mindful! Don’t assume that a child is being neglected until you understand how the culture cares for their offspring or don’t assume that a child lives in squalor because there are crayon markings on the wall… these are American standards…Consider the context of the situation. Moreover, one must consider the level of our client’s level of acculturation. If they are still closely tied to the norms of their country we must understand this and not hold them to the standards of American culture.

vincent said...

I'm a big advocate for immersion.Obviously, there are so many cultures out there that you can't possibly be an expert on them all so my answer is no, I don't feel prepared to handle different cultures. Learning about a culture in the classroom in living/interacting with one are two totally different things. Based on my own experience with different cultural groups, it's important to listen and be very observant of social norms, and in doing so be careful not to misinterpret those norms as maladjustments. Further, knowing when and how to ask questions for clarification about culutural values is vital. The same question could be offensive or appropriate depending on the context, tone of voice, and delivery of the inquirer.

Rosa said...

One of the things that I have found myself worrying about lately is related to cultural bias and intellectual assessment. I remember reading in Sattler last semester that African American and Hispanic children score 10 points lower on our IQ tests compared to the normative sample!

I'm working in an urban district that is predominantly African American and Hispanic. At first, I thought that my testing would be unfair and would be limiting of the child's actual abilities. However, I think that assessments can be done fairly if the school pyshcologist is aware of the test and its limitations, his or her personal biases, and the child's perspective, culture, and socioeconomic background.

I believe a cross-battery assessment is probably best when working with this population. I prefer the DAS because it captures more CHC abilities and is not as verbally based as the WISC when working with Bilingual children. Another thing that I find myself doing is taking a lot of notes during my assessments and interviews. I'm hoping that this will help me better interpret the child's scores, but also it will help me put together a more comprehensive understanding of the child, his or her family structure/environment, language that the child speaks at home and which language he or she feels more comfortable with, and his or her level of aculturation and that of his or her families to American customs. I believe that gathering this information will help me better understand the child that I'm working with and help me make better recommendations. I also really try to keep an open mind during an intake and remind myself that I am not here to determine what is "wrong" with this child, but instead, I am here to help understand how this child works and perceives the world.