Awareness

Click the topics below to find links to resources to support your cultural development.

An individual’s worldview and cultural background influences their daily interactions, relationships, and overall well-being. This is considered as true for mental health professionals as it is for the populations they serve.

Our work towards understanding another’s worldview is important, however, the mental health professions have stressed that mental health professional's self-awareness is more critical to culturally competent practice. Mental health professionals have been encouraged to gain awareness of their own cultural background and how their worldview may impact their work with others and even their interpretation of educational materials (APA, 2017; ACA, 2015; NASW, 2015).

A crucial aspect of self-reflection is the intentional consideration and response to the dynamics of power and privilege and the impact these factors can have on mental health, especially within the counseling relationship (APA, 2017).  

In exploring personal characteristics and perspectives, it is important to recognize bias is a natural tendency that all humans use to filter information (Braverman & Blumenthal-Barby, 2012). Examining personal bias, both explicit and implicit, is crucial to addressing health disparity and unjust treatment of underprivileged populations, as subtle and overt forms of discrimination are associated with several adverse emotional and mental health issues (APA, 2017; Alvarez, Juang, & Liang, 2006; Blume, Lovato, Thyken, & Denny, 2012; Helms, Nicolas, & Green, 2010; Lamont et al., 2015; Sellers, Copeland-Linder, Martin, & Lewis, 2006; Tummala-Narra, Alegría, & Chen, 2012).

Gaining awareness requires life-long critique of our internal and systemic structures that may limit a holistic understanding of an individual and their culture (Sue & Sue, 2016).