Career Counseling with Diverse Populations

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  • 0:01 Workforce Diversity
  • 0:53 Different Approaches
  • 3:02 Working with Diverse Groups
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

How can a career counselor work with many different people with unique needs? In this lesson, we'll look at career counseling with diverse populations, including two major approaches to diversity and key points for working with diverse groups.

Workforce Diversity

Rena is nervous. She's just gotten a job as a career counselor, but she's not sure how to work with all the different clients she has. They all seem to be from very different walks of life, and they all face unique challenges in their jobs and careers.

Rena is facing a challenge that many career counselors face. In a world made up of many different types of people, workforce diversity is a major topic and can come with some unique challenges for both employers and employees. Whether talking about culture, race, gender, sexual orientation, or disability, Rena has some big issues to discuss with her clients.

Let's take a look at some of the different approaches to career counseling with diverse populations and some tips for working with diverse groups.

Different Approaches

As we've seen, Rena is faced with a unique challenge: she has a diverse group of clients, and she has to figure out the best way to counsel them. On one hand, Rena thinks, 'Well, people are people. Everyone should get the same career counseling advice.' But on the other hand, Rena wonders if some of her clients would benefit from advice that was specific to people in their situation.

Rena is not alone in her confusion. There are two major approaches to career counseling people from different backgrounds. The etic perspective says that minorities should be counseled the same as the majority. When Rena thinks, 'Everyone should get the same career counseling advice,' she is taking the etic perspective.

To remember 'etic,' remember that 't' stands for 'total.' The etic perspective focuses on the total group: it gives everyone the same advice.

On the other hand, the emic perspective stresses the importance of offering career development specific to a client's culture or gender. The word 'emic' can be remembered by focusing on how the 'm' might stand for 'minority.' It focuses on the specific needs of minorities, instead of the total group needs.

For example, there is an American assumption that people should be individual and autonomous. If a person does something good at work, they should take credit and toot their own horn.

But some of Rena's clients are from a cultural background where individuality and autonomy aren't valued as highly as they are in mainstream America. To them, it is important to recognize the contributions of the team and not to stress what they, as individuals, did.

So, should Rena take the emic or etic perspective? It's not always as simple as choosing one or the other. She might want to incorporate aspects of both into her counseling. For example, she can encourage her client to learn to take more credit as an individual, while also recognizing that it's a good thing for the client to be true to his or her culture and also recognize the contributions of the group.

Working with Diverse Groups

Whether Rena chooses the etic or emic perspective, or goes with something in between, there are some key things that she'll want to remember when working with diverse groups. If she can focus on the words 'understand,' 'identify,' 'engage,' and 'support,' she can remember some of the key points to working with different people.

Rena should:

1. Understand that everyone has a unique perspective

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