We can understand a client’s difficult relationships as an expression of low self-esteem. Difficulties can also be recognized according to the particular cultural group to which the client belongs. The problems which are generally thought to be racial in nature, for example, can be seen to influence the specific relationships which the person finds difficult. This calls for the presence of a counseling strategy which takes into account this cultural facet.
A case scenario of the experience of racially-motivated difficulties would prove useful in determining which counseling strategies are most relevant. Locke (1986) regards the effective counselor as one who can combine the traditional techniques of counseling with an awareness of how the client has been socialized. In an effective setting, the client is regarded as both an individual and as a representative of a certain cultural group.
This requires respect and empathy on the part of the counselor; it also requires the counselor to be self-aware, to realize that not everyone has similar goals and styles of communication. Accordingly, we would have to address a black man’s relationship difficulties in terms of the potential for low self-esteem which is nurtured primarily by the way he has been socialized. He may find himself becoming alienated, for example, by speaking in a very loud voice or by using inappropriate language.
This, however, may be merely a sign of the environment to which he has grown accustomed. Similarly, if this man felt he was inadequately prepared to converse on a wide variety of topics, we would have to consider that his lack of education isn’t automatically a reflection of a lack of intelligence; his low self-esteem could again be a product of the lack of opportunities by which his race is affected.
Finally, we would have to consider our own cultural background and not let it interfere with our judgment of this man’s real emotional nature and potential for successful relationships.
Locke, D. C. (1986a). Cross-cultural counseling issues. In A. J. Palmo & W. J. Weikel (Eds. ), “Foundations of mental health counseling” (pp. 119-137). Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas. Retrieved on Oct. 29, 2008 from http://www. ericdigests. org