Assignment: Serving Special Populations

Assignment: Serving Special Populations

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Assignment: Serving Special Populations

Read: Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy, pages 43-45; and Addressing Diverse Populations in Intensive Outpatient Treatment I have attached additional reading material, I need this by Thursday,

Serving Special Populations

After completing the reading for this unit, what do you think is the greatest obstacle facing special populations in addiction treatment? What will you do as a counselor to ensure that all of your clients receive the best treatment possible?
Your paper is to be in APA format, 1-2 pages, and include sources. Please see paper guidelines for explanation of requirements.

Addressing Diverse Populations in Intensive Outpatient Treatment

1. Introduction
1. Introduction

Culture is important in substance abuse treatment because clients’ experiences of culture precede and influence their clinical experience. Treatment setting, coping styles, social supports, stigma attached to substance use disorders, even whether an individual seeks help–all are influenced by a client’s culture. Culture needs to be understood as a broad concept that refers to a shared set of beliefs, norms, and values among any group of people, whether based on ethnicity or on a shared affiliation and identity.

Retrieved from, Substance Abuse: Clinical Issues in Intensive Outpatient Treatment, Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (2006).

2. What It Means To Be a Culturally Competent Clinician

It is agreed widely in the health care field that an individual’s culture is a critical factor to be considered in treatment. The Surgeon General’s report, Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity, states, “Substantive data from consumer and family self-reports, ethnic match, and ethnic-specific services outcome studies suggest that tailoring services to the specific needs of these [ethnic] groups will improve utilization and outcomes” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001, p. 36). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association 1994) calls on clinicians to understand how their relationship with the client is affected by cultural differences and sets up a framework for reviewing the effects of culture on each client.

Because verbal communication and the therapeutic alliance are distinguishing features of treatment for both substance use and mental disorders, the issue of culture is significant for treatment in both fields. The therapeutic alliance should be informed by the clinician’s understanding of the client’s cultural identity, social supports, self-esteem, and reluctance about treatment resulting from social stigma. A common theme in culturally competent care is that the treatment provider–not the person seeking treatment–is responsible for ensuring that treatment is effective for diverse clients.

Meeting the needs of diverse clients involves two components: (1) understanding how to work with persons from different cultures and (2) understanding the specific culture of the person being served (Jezewski and Sotnik 2001). In this respect, being a culturally competent clinician differs little from being a responsible, caring clinician who looks past first impressions and stereotypes, treats clients with respect, expresses genuine interest in clients as individuals, keeps an open mind, asks questions of clients and other providers, and is willing to learn.

3. Treatment Principles

Members of racial and ethnic groups are not uniform. Each group is highly heterogeneous and includes a diverse mix of immigrants, refugees, and multigenerational Americans who have vastly different histories, languages, spiritual practices, demographic patterns, and cultures (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001).

For example, the cultural traits attributed to Hispanics/Latinos are at best generalizations that could lead to stereotyping and alienation of an individual client. Hispanics/Latinos are not a homogeneous group. For example, distinct Hispanic/Latino cultural groups–Cuban Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Mexican Americans, and Central and South Americans–do not think and act alike on every issue. How recently immigration occurred, the country of origin, current place of residence, upbringing, education, religion, and income level shape the experiences and outlook of every individual who can be described as Hispanic/Latino.

Many people also have overlapping identities, with ties to multiple cultural and social groups in addition to their racial or ethnic group. For example, a Chinese American also may be Catholic, an older adult, and a Californian. This individual may identify more closely with other Catholics than with other Chinese Americans. Treatment providers need to be careful not to make facile assumptions about clients’ culture and values based on race or ethnicity.

To avoid stereotyping, clinicians must remember that each client is an individual. Because culture is complex and not easily reduced to a simple description or formula, generalizing about a client’s culture is a paradoxical practice. An observation that is accurate and helpful when applied to a large group of people may be misleading and harmful if applied to an individual. It is hoped that the utility of offering broad descriptions of cultural groups outweighs the potential misunderstandings. When using the information in this chapter, counselors need to find a balance between understanding clients in the context of their culture and seeing clients as merely an extension of their culture. Culture is only a starting point for exploring an individual’s perceptions, values, and wishes. How strongly individuals share the dominant values of their culture varies and depends on numerous factors, including their education, socioeconomic status, and level of acculturation to U.S. society.

4. Differences in Worldview

A first step in mediating among various cultures in treatment is to understand the Anglo-American culture of the United States. When compared with much of the rest of the world, this culture is materialistic and competitive and places great value on individual achievement and on being oriented to the future. For many people in U.S. society, life is fast paced, compartmentalized, and organized around some combination of family and work, with spirituality and community assuming less importance.

Some examples of this worldview that differ from that of other cultures include:

  • Holistic worldview. Many cultures, such as Native-American and Asian cultures, view the world in a holistic sense; that is, they see all of nature, the animal world, the spiritual world, and the heavens as an intertwined whole. Becoming healthy involves more than just the individual and his or her family; it entails reconnecting with this larger universe.
  • Spirituality. Spiritual beliefs and ceremonies often are central to clients from some cultural groups, including Hispanics/Latinos and American Indians. This spirituality should be recognized and considered during treatment. In programs for Native Americans, for example, integrating spiritual customs and rituals may enhance the relevance and acceptability of services.
  • Community orientation. The Anglo-American culture assumes that treatment focuses on the individual and the individual’s welfare. Many other cultures instead are oriented to the collective good of the group. For example, individual identity may be tied to one’s forebears and descendants, with their welfare considered in making decisions. Asian-American and Native-American clients may care more about how the substance use disorder harms their family group than how they are affected as individuals.
  • Extended families. The U.S. nuclear family consisting of parents and children is not what most other cultures mean by family. For many groups, family often means an extended family of relatives, including even close family friends. IOT programs need a flexible definition of family, accepting the family system as it is defined by the client.
  • Communication styles. Cultural misunderstandings and communication problems between clients and clinicians may prevent clients from minority groups from using services and receiving appropriate care (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2001). Understanding manifest differences in culture, such as clothing, lifestyle, and food, is not crucial (with the exception of religious restrictions on dress and diet) to treating clients. It often is the invisible differences in expectations, values, goals, and communication styles that cause cultural differences to be misinterpreted as personal violations of trust or respect. However, one cannot know an individual’s communication style or values based on that person’s group affiliation (see appendix 10-A for more information and resources on cross-cultural communication).
  • Multidimensional learning styles. The Anglo-American culture emphasizes learning through reading and teaching. This method sometimes is described as linear learning that focuses on reasoned facts. Other cultures, especially those with an oral tradition, do not believe that written information is more reliable, valid, and substantial than oral information. Instead, learning often comes through parables and stories that interweave emotion and narrative to communicate on several levels at once. The authority of the speaker may be more important than that of the message. Expressive, creative, and nonverbal interventions that are characteristic of a specific cultural group can be helpful in treatment. Cultures with this kind of rich oral tradition and learning pattern include Hispanics/Latinos, African-Americans, American Indians, and Pacific Islanders.

Common issues affecting the counselor-client relationship include the following: