[From 10$/Pg] Make Culturally Alert Observations
This week, we will continue our discussions about the major ethnic groups within the cultural context of the United States. Heritage, values, beliefs, and acculturative experiences have an impact on an individual’s views of others. It is imperative for the counselor to be able to identify cultural implications that may come up when working with clients from similar or different cultures.
Choose one of the following case studies for this discussion:
Jayden is a 28-year-old woman. She lives in Sacramento, CA, where she was born and raised. Her mother is Puerto Rican and her father is of Swedish descent but was raised in Spain. Jayden is the oldest of three children. She has a younger brother and what she refers to as a baby sister. Jayden has always wondered from where in the family she inherited her looks. Her sister is tall, thin, and fair-skinned, with long, straight, black hair, and, in her own words, “can pass for White.” Jayden has always struggled with her weight, has curly hair, and brown skin. Her family only speaks Spanish in the home, and although she understands it, she only responds in English.
Jayden was on a Zoom call with some of her old college roommates. They were talking about a mutual friend who recently got married. One of her old roommates said, “Tara got to marry into White and rich once she stopped speaking like the help and started blending in.” Realizing the look on Jayden’s face, her roommate said, “I don’t see you that way, please don’t take offense.” Jayden felt a bit upset by it, but said, “It’s OK, don’t worry about it.”
Jayden always felt like she didn’t quite belong. On one hand, she didn’t feel like she fit in with other Latinas, and on the other hand, she didn’t feel White enough to fit in with White people. She also feels like she isn’t thin enough, pretty enough, or good enough. Lately she has been having a hard time getting out of bed in the morning, has gained a significant amount of weight, has socially withdrawn from her friends and family, has been finding it difficult to concentrate at work, and has crying spells.
Amira is a 32-year-old woman with ancestry from the Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) region. She comes from a very traditional family and has four older brothers who are very protective. Amira has a master’s degree, is the director of human resources at her company, and is proud of her career and financial independence. Although she could live on her own, she still lives with her parents and feels there is no need to move out until she marries.
Amira’s father was born in the United States and her mother is an immigrant who met her father as a part of an arranged marriage. They have been married for 42 years and talk openly about how being married first really forced them to get to know one another and grow their love. Her parents feel that a solid relationship should have a foundation based on shared values, community, and family. Amira recently met and began dating a non-Muslim man. She is afraid to tell her parents about her new mate as she fears they will be disappointed and force her to stop seeing him. Amira resents the freedoms afforded to her brothers as they could date freely until it was time for them to get married. Once it was deemed “their time,” they were able choose their partners with the help of their parents. Amira has recently overheard her parents talking about it being time that they found her a husband and feels that she should tell them about her new relationship. She feels that she is an adult and should be able to decide on her own who to marry or if she wants to be married. She is torn about what to do, but feels she has no one to talk to.
Amira’s mother and father accompanied her to the session. When you introduced yourself in the lobby before taking her back to your office, the family stood, and the father offered you his hand. The father introduced you to Amira and she responded with a soft hello. The father explained that Amira has been feeling sad and wanted to talk to someone. He noted that he didn’t agree with her going outside of the family for help but was willing to do what it takes to help her feel better. When you extended your hand, she looked down and kept her hands clasped. You notice that Amira is modestly dressed and wears a hijab. As she spoke, she avoided eye contact and spoke softly.
Respond to the following in a minimum of 175 words:
- What information in this case study might be helpful for you as the counselor?
- What are the cultural implications for working with this client?
- How would you characterize/explore the client’s cultural identity?
- How does being aware of your own biases help you make culturally alert observations without making assumptions?