Effective Counseling Term Paper

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Counseling: Determining a Model of Effective Cross Cultural Counseling

The purpose of this research paper is to investigate cross culturing counseling. The field of psychology has increasingly recognized the need for more effective cross-cultural practices. While the need for effective cross-cultural counseling techniques has been acknowledged by practitioners, few have actually identified the best methods for approaching the cross-cultural relationship in an effective manner (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003).

This study investigated which methods of counseling are most effective at enabling the counselor to build rapport and trust in a cross-cultural context. In addition the researcher examines the following hypothesis: The most effective method of counseling from a cross cultural perspective is a model that requires that the counselor consider culture as an aspect of a clients identity, and incorporates that portion of identity into the counseling relationship.

The results of the study suggest that considering culture as a part of identity is vital to the counseling relationship, though other factors including a practitioner's knowledge of various cultures also ultimately impact the counseling relationship.


The purpose of this paper is to conduct an observational and investigational analysis of what the critical factors are that determine and effective cross cultural counseling relationship. More specifically the researcher will attempt to investigate the following question: "What method of counseling is most effective in enabling a counselor to build rapport and trust in a cross cultural context." The researcher intends to conduct a comprehensive review of the literature available on cross cultural counseling and counseling competencies in order to determine what factors may impact the counseling relationship with particular regard to cross cultural relationships. As society continues to diversify the nature of counseling has changed, thus studies investigating the impact of counseling in a diverse environment are warranted and necessary to ensure the continued efficacy of counseling relationships.

Significance of The Study

According to Bogo, George & Tsang (2003) cross-cultural counseling may be characterized by "a proliferation of opinions without empirical substantiation" (p. 63). Specifically the researchers point out that a need has become evident within the counseling community to develop more cross-cultural competence.

Though there are many different opinions that exist with regard to how counselors can interact effectively with diverse clients there are few studies that are well developed enough to draw connections between theoretical conceptualizations of a cross cultural practice and clinical realities (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003; Betancourt & Lopez, 1993; Ponterotto & Casas, 1991).


Based on a preliminary review of the literature available with regard to cross cultural counseling, the researcher proposes the following hypothesis: "The most effective method of counseling from a cross cultural perspective is a model that requires that the counselor consider culture as an aspect of a clients identity, and incorporates that portion of identity into the counseling relationship."

There are numerous studies that suggest that traditional models of cross-cultural counseling limit a practitioner's ability because culture is considered a characteristic of an individual rather than a portion of their identity (Bogo, George, & Tsang, 2003; McNeil, Horn & Perez, 1995).

Most traditional models of cross-cultural counseling also lend themselves to stereotyping (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003). The researcher conducting this study will attempt to develop a theory with regard to counseling that is grounded in solid research.


The researcher proposes use of a naturalistic design that will involve case study analysis, and extensive review of the literature available on cross cultural counseling, to determine what studies have been conducted up until this point in time and which have provided significant information with regard to effective cross cultural counseling techniques.

It will be particularly important to analyze clients opinions of the counseling relationship to determine whether or not the model adopted can be considered effective (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003). In particular, a naturalistic approach where counselors will be encouraged to engage in practice as they normally would will be most effective, such that outcome and process data can e generated for the study and enable the researcher to identify specific clinical practices that result in a positive or negative outcome (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003).

Qualitative assessment methods that evaluate the client and counseling relationship are best used to assess the expectations of the client and perceived outcomes (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003).

Literature Review

According to research the most important aspect of cross-cultural counseling that needs to be examined is how a practice is conceptualized (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003). Traditional counseling methods are often defined as "ethnocentric" even though the client base that many practitioners work from is ethno culturally diverse in nature (McNeill, Horn & Perez, 1995). Many practitioners unfortunately still believe that ethnicity is not a dimension of identity, but rather see it as a client characteristic, thus their practices do not work to embrace ethnic identity as an experience to be shared by all parties involved in the counseling process (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003).

When researching effective counseling techniques from a multi-ethnic approach, it is important that the research is not based solely on the ethnic group membership of the client, which can perpetuate "stereotypic conceptualizations" of client behaviors ad "erroneously uses client ethnicity as an independent variable" (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003:63).

Further any model of practice that deals with a diverse counseling approach must not presume that the practitioner is an expert on their clients culture; rather it suggest that the practitioner is familiar enough with the client's culture to establish rapport and competence with the client (Dyche & Zayas, 1995).

The best approach might be to recognize that ethnicity is a personal dimension of client and practitioner, and should be distinguished from other concepts including race and culture (Bogo, George & Tsang, 2003; Richmond, 1994).

Sanders (2003) suggests that the racial and cultural tensions that exist in society as a whole can be present within the context of a counseling relationship. Cultural differences that exist between the client and counselor can contribute to a lack of understanding between the two parties, the failure of the counselor to establish rapport and the inability of the client to perceive counseling as effective. The most important aspect of a client relationship according to Sanders (2003) is the ability of the practitioner to build rapport with the client.

Further, Sanders (2003) suggest that for cross cultural counselors to be effective they must increase their credibility in the counseling relationship by reducing tension and having an awareness of their own personal "biases, assumptions and stereotypes" which may impact the counseling relationship (p. 58).

Cohen & Diaz-Lazaro (2001) suggest that the more access and prior cross cultural life experience a counselor have prior to treating clients, the more multicultural counseling competencies an individual will gain. The researchers do point out that relatively few studies have analyzed the impact of cross cultural contact experiences in the training of counselors, however the research available suggest that the more contact a counselor has, the greater the likelihood that they will engage is successful counseling relationships (Cohen & Diaz-Lazaro, 2001).


Sanders (2003) suggests that an effective cross cultural counseling relationship can be developed when counselors are aware of their personal biases and strive to reduce them; he also points out that counselors must take an appropriate amount of time to increase their credibility by working to understand a client's culture and carrying a nonjudgmental attitude (P. 58). Specific knowledge of a client's culture will also help improve credibility, and will help the practitioner become more empathetic toward the counseling relationship (Sanders, 2003). Knowledge can come from exposure to cultural groups, books, and seminars (Sanders, 2003; Wyatt, 1985).

According to Cohen & Diaz-Lazaro (2001) cross-cultural contact in training is a critical aspect of the development of multicultural counseling competencies.

Carter (2001) proposes a racial-cultural counseling competence model, which defines cross cultural counseling by analyzing the knowledge, skills and awareness that counselors need to adopt in order to be competent. The model suggest that the counselor need to see himself or herself through the "lens of his other reference groups" and recognizes that the counselor brings to the counseling relationship a network of "meaningful social identities and reference group affiliations" (Carter, 2003:20).

The results of the literature review overwhelmingly suggest that for an effective counseling relationship to develop in a cross-cultural context, the counselor must build rapport and establish a comfortable environment with the client. To best accomplish this the counselor should work to recognize his or her own cultural background as it impacts his or her own identity, and consider the ways in which the client incorporates their cultural background and beliefs into their personal identity.

With regard to the initial hypothesis then, the researcher concludes that they hypothesis is valid, and that the most effective method of counseling from a cross cultural perspective is a model that requires that the counselor consider culture as an aspect of a clients identity, and incorporates that portion of identity into the counseling relationship. Other factors that might impact the relationship include the…

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