Back To CourseTopics in Sociology
8 chapters | 89 lessons
Karin has taught middle and high school Health and has a master's degree in social work.
In 2014, Catholic Pope Francis visited and prayed in a Muslim mosque in Turkey. He wanted to emphasize his commitment to peaceful Christian-Muslim relations. This act of openness to another culture and religion warmed the hearts of many. A culture encompasses traditions, attitudes, beliefs, rituals and customs, values and experiences of a group of people.
In a world of melding cultures, there is more and more emphasis on the need for cultural responsiveness. Cultural responsiveness is a willingness and desire to learn from people of other cultures through questions, conversation and experience, and to find ways to genuinely relate to these people. Many of us tend to live in a cultural bubble where we interact with people of the same race, culture and socioeconomic status because it is with what we are used to and comfortable. Unfortunately, this can lead to cultural encapsulation.
Cultural encapsulation is ignorance or lack of knowledge of another's cultural background, and failure to recognize the significance that a person's culture plays on their current life situation and view of the world.
There is an emphasis on the harm of cultural encapsulation in the counseling field. If counselors only treated their clients based on their own cultural world view, they would fail to see how their client's beliefs and life experience has an effect on their problems. This can lead a counselor to establish false assumptions about their clients. For example, a Christian counselor who meets with a Muslim woman may see her hijab or headscarf as a sign of oppression, but to the client, it is a symbol of empowerment and respect within her culture.
Cultural encapsulation can occur especially if the counselor comes from a privileged background and the client comes from a lower socioeconomic background (i.e. white privilege). This can be harmful to the client because it can be alienating and frustrating to have their worldview and life experience not taken into consideration.
Dr. Paul Pederson, a psychologist who specializes in cultural competence in counseling, gives ten examples of cultural encapsulation in the counseling field. Although we won't review all 10 of the examples in this lesson, the following bullets give a synopsis of his list.
It is for these reasons that licensed counselors in the mental health, marriage and family, and social work fields are required to take classes and attend workshops centered on multicultural competence. In order to maintain licensure every year, these therapists must continue their education by attending courses to update their knowledge on cultural competence.
In the following example, we will look at a counselor whose cultural encapsulation hinders her from establishing a therapeutic rapport with her Hispanic client.
Mary Gates is a white American born and raised Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and family therapist. She meets with Claudia Vento, a Colombian-Hispanic mother who has lived in the United States for ten years with her two children. While doing the initial therapy interview, Mrs. Vento claims that she calls her son, a freshman in college, daily. Ms. Gates is appaled and suggests that Mrs. Vento decrease her communication with her son to give him more space. Mrs. Vento is offended and hurt by Ms. Gate's suggestion, and wonders if Ms. Gates will understand her at all.
In this example, Ms. Gates is familiar with the American concept of a family where children are encouraged to be independent and self-sufficient. She appears unfamiliar with the Hispanic concept of the family that entails more interdependence amongst family members, especially between mothers and their children. What Ms. Gates sees as unhealthy codependent behavior is actually normal, healthy and functional for the Vento family.
Some world peace specialists, like those who work for the United Nations, believe that if people were to put themselves in the shoes of others regarding upbringing, religious beliefs, attitudes, traditions and cultural background, there would be a lot less fighting between different countries and cultures. This relates to cultural responsiveness, a willingness and desire to learn from people of other cultures through questions, conversation and experience, and to find ways to genuinely relate to these people.
A culture encompasses traditions, attitudes, beliefs, rituals and customs, values and experiences of a group of people. Cultural encapsulation is ignorance or lack of knowledge of another's cultural background, and failure to recognize the significance that a person's culture plays on their current life situation and worldview. There is a focus on cultural encapsulation in the counseling world because it is especially important for counselors to not fall into the trap of culturally encapsulating their own clients. This can ruin therapy rapport and actually do a disservice to the clients rather than help them.
Dr. Paul Pederson is a psychologist who specializes in cultural competence in the counseling field. He gives examples of cultural encapsulation such as the fact that clients are all measured on the same standard of behavior despite having various cultural backgrounds, the bias for individualism verses interdependence despite other cultures value on interdependence, and the fact that many counselors don't recognize their own biases and therefore don't place an importance on becoming culturally competent.
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Back To CourseTopics in Sociology
8 chapters | 89 lessons