What to Look for When Seeking a Multicultural Therapist
Multiculturalism in the counselling setting refers to culturally sensitive therapy, which includes both minority and majority groups and how these differing cultures interact. A multicultural therapist, particularly ones who experience cultural privilege, must acknowledge the way cultural positions of power and oppression may be at play within the therapeutic relationship to ensure safety for you, the client.
Finding a therapist you connect with can be challenging, especially when taking into consideration the differences in culture that may be present between you and your therapist. As a white, cisgender, heterosexual woman, I acknowledge my position in our society and come to this topic humbly, recognizing the importance of continued learning while confronting parts of me that could invalidate, dismiss, or harm those of differing identities than me.
Seeking a therapist who prioritizes multicultural counselling is important to ensure your safety and support in session, which requires your therapist to be self-aware and sensitive to the way you both may differ. To ensure your therapist is competent in providing culturally sensitive counselling, here are five skills that should be present. Your therapist should exhibit interpersonal abilities by being able to effectively connect with others. They should have cultural awareness by being aware of your culture and their own and how there may be various cultural dynamics present in the therapeutic relationship. When seeking a multicultural therapist, they must use sensitivity when discussing certain topics and respect your wishes. Further, your therapist should understand why sensitivity is needed inside and outside of sessions. And lastly, but not exhaustively, your therapist should be empathetic by sharing your feelings and not dismissing them.
When seeking a multicultural therapist, you can ask yourself,
1. “Are they able to connect with me?”
2. “Are they culturally aware?”
3. “Are they sensitive to my experiences?”
4. “Do they seek to understand me and my culture?”
5. “Do they exhibit empathy toward me?”
To go a step further, I encourage clients, or potential clients, to connect with their therapist and ask how they engage in anti-racism work and education both professionally and personally in a way that challenges systems of oppression. Systems that uphold power and privilege for select identities have the greatest negative impact on the mental health of those experiencing oppression. It is imperative that your therapist does not uphold these systems within the therapeutic relationship and actively seeks to change these systems.
As you seek a therapist to come alongside you with whatever challenges you may be facing, choosing a culturally aware therapist will better assist you on your journey.
France, M. H., del Carmen Rodríguez, M., & Hett, G. G. (Eds.). (2013). Diversity, culture and counselling: A Canadian perspective. Brush Education.
Maryville Online. (2020, January 7). Multicultural Counseling: Types, Strategies, and Techniques. Maryville Online. https://online.maryville.edu/blog/multicultural-counseling/#:~:text=Helping%20those%20in%20therapeutic%20settings,multicultural%20counseling%20is%20so%20important.