Understanding cultural issues is critical to providing superior care and is an ethical mandate for therapists. The various ethics codes and standards discuss culture as it relates to the therapeutic process. As examples, the NASW Standards and Indicators of Cultural Competence state that social workers will  “demonstrate cultural humility and sensitivity to the dynamics of power and privilege”. The APA code states that psychologists “ensure that their potential biases…do not lead to or condone unjust practices,” and the ACA code requires that counselors “explore their own cultural identities and how these affect their values and beliefs about the counseling process”. In this workshop, participants will explore how the identities, background and past experiences of therapists can affect interactions with those who are different from them in a variety ways, including and especially, their clients.

Discovering our biases can be painfully challenging, particularly when they are contrary to our values and self-concept. The additional challenge is that therapists are in positions of power, so they may miss the bias that occurs, especially if it is unconscious. Moreover, clients are less likely to confront their therapist due to this power dynamic. We will discuss bias as it applies to multiple identities, including race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, age and ability, as well as steps therapists can take to reduce the impact biases may have on client progress. Film clips will be used to encourage small and large group discussions.

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