Culture Today In the State of California today, there are many different cultures that represent the melting pot of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexual identities and ages. There is no real predominant culture that represents who “we” are as members of a community in which we live. Families come to this great state to make a better life for themselves and their families without one true sense of culture from one neighborhood or another. There are pockets of areas and towns where those with similar races or subcultures gravitate to for one reason or another, but to identify in a particular culture here is rather difficult. Culture is really a set of values, traditions, language, behaviors and beliefs that each individual learns from their family of origin from the most part. There are great representations of ‘norms and values’ that are shared in most families that generations tend to carry on from one to the next. Language is a major piece of culture that is taught from our family that raised us as children, and can either create a bridge, or a barrier in what and how communication occurs from a young age.
Many other aspects of culture are learned through the process of acculturation; this can be a process of learning new traditions, behaviors and rituals from being involved with a particular ‘group’ of people, such as: substance users, gang members, military members, those with disabilities, etc. Becoming acculturated to another group that has differing beliefs from the cultural upbringing or family of origin can cause an individual and family a lot of stress. This can and may bring some members into our care for therapy. This makes it important for counselors to acknowledge that culture can and does make a difference in how effective we can be in reaching others in a meaningful way. It would be naïve to think that anyone can know everything about any one or more cultures, but having an appreciation and respect for all cultures will assist all involved in the therapeutic process.
Cultural Standards When entering in the field of counseling it is important to understand the ‘do no harm’ rule. This obviously means that we attempt to intentionally do no harm emotionally, physically, or otherwise to the clients in our care. But doing harm can also be done unintentionally with the best of motivations. All therapist should be clear about who they are as individuals and attempt to understand that the biases, beliefs and their version of ‘normal’ does not apply across the board. Agencies that provide services should develop standards of practice that give all staff training on cultural competency and have a system of care that reflects the lives of the individuals, families, and communities in which they serve.
Clinics should have reception areas, materials, assessments, curriculum and staff that should be reflective of the various needs of the respective community and should be capable of providing linguistic services and resources. Staff teams should be comprised of broadly diverse staff members with a variety of culture and language. And individuals with needs outside of what the agency provides should have adequate referrals to assist those that are outside