I had taken a course in Multicultural counseling during my graduate school studies.
Based on my recall, multicultural has two aspects:
- Have a basic understanding of a culture: In example some well-known things about Appalachian culture consists of: poverty, coal-mining, hardworking, church-based, and moonshine to name a few.
- Don’t have stereotypes about that culture based on limited understanding: The person you meet from Appalachia will not be 100% coal-miner, living in poverty, drinking moonshine.
- We as human beings (and Rec therapist practitioners) will never truly know what it is like to have had another person’s life experiences, ethnic background, and cultural experiences. None of us can completely understand what it is like from their experiences.
- Having culture-blocking glasses isn’t realistic and authentic. In example, if a person says, “I don’t see skin color,” it would appear inauthentic.
Some suggestions on multicultural care:
- Point out that you (the practitioner) are aware of cultural differences and acknowledge that you don’t have a complete understanding of her (or his) culture.
- Specifically ask if there is anything you’d need to know about their culture and background so you can provide the best care. They’ll probably tell you important things.
Take a class on a specific culture or take a multi-cultural course.
- Let’s pretend you’re a person of Appalachian culture and you get your first job in Louisiana. There will be some cultural differences. The people/ customers/ patients who you provide services for in that area will be predominately of that culture. Take a course to learn more about that culture.
- “Vets” have a culture, too. They have their own set of words and shared experiences. Recreation therapists who seek to work at a V.A. hospital might want to consider studying Veterans or take a class. I’m sure the V.A. provides training.
- Religion and faith: It could be beneficial to take a course to learn about a different religious culture if you work in a setting where many people have a different religion, faith, or belief.
- I was recently reading a book on creativity. I regret to say that I’m not able to recall the source or I would pay attribution. The author had pointed out the creative benefits for having a multicultural team. People from the same culture and background often saw problems from one view. The teams that had multicultural mix of people were often able to solve a problem quicker due to their mixed experiences.
Ethical and legal concerns:
We, Recreational Therapists are in the helping field. We have an ethical responsibility to provide service for any patient in need of services despite their culture.
Here are sme of the ATRA Code of ethics that relate to cultural competence:
Principle 1: Benefice: bring about the great benefits to patient.
Principle 2: Non-maleficent: protect them from harm (which I’d add could include harm from discrimination) while respecting their decisions.
Principle 4: Justice: provide services despite race, gender, age, culture, sexual orientation, disability, or illness.
Danny’s comments: a person who is not able to adhere to the justice code may not be well-suited to be a Recreational Therapist.
Principle 9: Competence: this would include cultural competences.
Principle 10: Compliance with laws and regulations. Refusing services based on culture could be a legal concern. There have been times when a professional has been held legally accountable because they have referred a client/ patient to someone else for services due to race, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
- The Case for Cultural Competency in Psychotherapeutic Interventions: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2793275/
- ATRA Code of Ethics: https://www.atra-online.com/welcome/about-atra/ethics