Understanding of Culture and Multiple Dimensions

As we continue to expand our understanding of culture and its multiple dimensions, our ability to negotiate therapeutic situations in ethically responsive ways will also continue to expand the profession’s impact. In essence, our discussion of what is cultur- ally responsive and of what is cultural go hand in hand. Our discourse on various cultural groups as “one” group (Latinos, African Americans, etc.) is changing to a more culture-specific understanding of the within-group diversity that exists. We should no longer view Latinos as simply Latinos generically but should appreciate the diversity within each cultural group. In doing so, indigenous ideologies, eastern philosophies, culture-specific prac- tices (i.e., Mexican Americans vs. Peruvian Americans), and other religious and spiritual practices will expand our “clinical toolbox” when working in cross-cultural situations. It will be important that we are prepared and ready to respond to the changing demograph- ics, which simultaneously change the way we practice.

Additionally, as we approach the era of evidence-based prac- tices with multiculturally diverse populations, and enhance our understanding of the multiple identities each individual client brings into the therapeutic encounter, the complementary roles of ethically and culturally responsive practices provide opportunities for us as practitioners to either respond to the call or remain stagnant. This is where the rubber truly hits the road, ethically. While our discussion on boundaries and multiple relationships (Barnett et al., 2007) is essential, our discussion as practitioners needs to extend beyond this discourse if we are going to respond as culturally responsive providers, both in theory and in practice. While these discussions remain critical in our discourse, we need to challenge the profession to understand that as long as our philosophical differences remain intact between those practitioners who believe we are “already there” as a profession and those practitioners who endorse the ever-evolving, life-long process of cultural responsiveness, we will continue to have the same debates 20 years from now that we had 20 years ago.

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