Challenge Among Trainees

Furthermore, there is a continued challenge among trainees who state that some supervisors express sentiments of reservation or hesitancy when trainees attempt to expand the therapeutic context and process by addressing the needs of their diverse clients in ways that may challenge the therapeutic status quo. These stories should be of great concern to the professional practice of psychology. More specifically, these fear-based responses situate our profes- sional licenses and reputations before our desire to make decisions on what is best, therapeutically and ethically, for our clients. Ultimately, a cultural framework (culture specific, feminist theory, liberation psychology, etc.) informs us that our power over another is limited and that to internalize one’s power over another is contraindicated in working in culturally appropriate ways. Our willingness as practitioners to embrace a more expanded under- standing of culture might actually help us put in perspective the power that we ascribe to our work and our own ability to “heal” others.

Paul asked the critical question, “What treatment, by whom, is most effective for this individual, with that specific problem, and under which set of circumstances?”. If we begin with the assumption that everyone has culture, including Whites, then it becomes imperative that we begin with a culturally responsive framework, while utilizing our existing clinical and ethical foundations. We can no longer regulate culturally responsive practices to only “people of color” while reserving all other treatments for everyone else. If we embrace the notion that culture is more expansive than simply race and ethnicity, then we also understand that culturally responsive practice should be our standard and norm and not the exception. It is important that as a profession we recognize that our ethics code requires us to be competent with all those with whom we work therapeutically and that it is our professional responsibility to maintain the competencies and knowledge needed to do so. In failing to meet this standard, we are failing to meet our ethical and cultural responsibility as practitioners. A clinically responsive lens or definition may not automatically imply cultural responsiveness. It is for this reason that we need to extend our reach as practitioners to strive for more than the minimum standard required to practice in “ethi- cal” ways with diverse communities.

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