Multicultural Counseling: Cultural Issues in the Implementation of Counseling in Schools

Multicultural Issues: Creating a Multicultural School Environment

American schools are becoming increasingly diverse. As a result of changing demographics, and with the increasing focus on multiculturalism in the country, school counselors will be increasingly challenged to make schools sensitive to diversity. In particular, they will be expected to help all children develop a healthy self-concept, respect diversity, and develop a positive and confident attitude toward academic success. In addition, school counselors are expected to promote a multicultural atmosphere in schools by:

  • Provide a conducive educational environment for all children for good results in reducing achievement gaps.
  • Helping schools broadly define diversity to include individuals with disabilities, religious differences, and sexual orientations, as well as older people.
  • Find ways to help increase the number of students who have difficulty speaking English.
  • Guarantee the use of culturally sensitive textbooks.
  • Offers workshops and programs to help students, teachers, and administrators become multicultural lovers.
  • Evaluate guidance materials to ensure that they are not biased.
  • Involving parents in their child's educational experience so that they are able to understand that they come from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  • Understanding how the cultural background of students, in interaction with the school environment, affects how students interpret their situation.
  • Find out how to set up comprehensive counseling and developmental and multicultural sensitive counseling programs.
  • Assist schools in the development mechanism for individuals from diverse backgrounds.
  • Become a proficient multicultural school counselor.

2. Assessing Multicultural Competence

One way that school counselors can make sure that they create a multicultural environment is by conducting a systematic analysis of their schools. Offers a list of 51 items across nine categories to help school counselors do this. The categories, which are based on a “theme analysis” of multicultural issues in school counseling, are as follows:

  1. Multicultural counseling,
  2. Multicultural consulting,
  3. Understanding racism and student resistance,
  4. Multicultural assessment,
  5. Understanding the development of racial identity,
  6. Multicultural family counseling,
  7. Social advocacy,
  8. Develop school-family-community partnerships, and
  9. Cross-cultural understanding of interpersonal interactions.

The main issue that concerns multicultural counselors in the United States, especially those with an emic point of view, is the predominance of theories based on European/North American cultural values. Some of the dominant beliefs from Europe/North America are individual values, action-oriented problem solving,

The second issue in multicultural counseling is sensitivity to culture in general and in particular. Pedersen (1982) believes that it is important for counselors to be sensitive to the following three areas of cultural issues:

  1. Knowledge of the perspectives of clients from different cultures
  2. Sensitivity to one's personal point of view and how one is a product of cultural conditioning
  3. Skills required to work with clients of different cultures.

The third issue is mastering the working method of the cultural system and its influence on behavior. Counselors who have knowledge and understanding of cultural systems will generally be more proficient in helping members of certain cultural groups.

The fourth issue in multicultural counseling is providing efficient cross-cultural counseling services. Sue (1978) developed 5 guidelines for efficient cross-cultural counseling, which are still applicable today:

  1. Counselors identify the values ​​and beliefs they hold regarding desirable and acceptable human behavior. They will then be able to integrate this interpretation into appropriate behavior and feelings.
  2. Counselors are aware of the quality and tradition of counseling theory that is universal and cultural in character. There is no counseling procedure that is free from cultural influences.
  3. Counselors understand the socio-political areas that have affected the lives of members of minority groups. Humans are a product of the conditions in which they live.
  4. Counselors are able to share the views of clients and do not ask for their validity.

The final issue in multicultural counseling is the growth and use of counseling theories. Cultural bias exists in counselors from the majority or minority groups (Wendel, 1997) and has previously entered into counseling theories. To experience bias, culturally delimited theories of counseling, and to help transcend cultural boundaries, McFadden (1999) and several leading counselor educators have devised a method for dealing with ideas and practices that were raised before there was an understanding of the need for multicultural counseling.

Mcfadden's model is a cross-cultural perspective that focuses on 3 main measures that must be understood by counselors, namely: 

  1. Cultural-historical, namely the counselor must master the knowledge of the client's culture.
  2. Psychosocial, the counselor must understand the client's ethnicity, race, performance, conversation, social group behavior in order to have meaningful communication.
  3. Ideological-scientific, ie counselors must use appropriate counseling approaches to deal with problems related to regional, national, and international environments.


Ed Neukrug (2007).The World of The Counselor: An Introduction to the Counseling Profession. United States: Thomson Brooks/Cole. Page 445-474

Samuel T.Glading (2012). Konseling: Profesi yang Menyeluruh. Jakarta: Permata Puri Media. Hal.459-494

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