Culturally Relevant Strategies: Racial and Ethnic Minorities



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 Culturally Relevant Strategies: Racial and Ethnic Minorities


Early in the course we explored the principles of Multicultural Counseling and Therapy (MCT). We learned that MCT is considered a meta-approach to counseling, or an approach that transcends a counselor’s theoretical orientation. In this unit, we will consider culturally relevant strategies, particularly with respect to Asian Americans and Hispanic/Latino Americans.

Although it is helpful to conceptualize cultural competence in terms of awareness, knowledge, and skill, it is difficult to separate these phenomena in providing culturally competent counseling. In order to be effective, we need to be aware of how our characteristics, the characteristics of counseling, and the characteristics and concerns of the client will impact the counseling relationship. We also have to draw on our general knowledge of the client’s group memberships and how those may inform the client’s presentations, needs, and effective practice. And then we have to put that awareness and knowledge into play in the counseling and advocacy strategies we employ in the promotion of optimal health and well-being for our clients.

Developing our awareness and knowledge of the central role of communication styles and the sociopolitical context of communication will be essential to our practice. We will consider the literature as it pertains to MCT and the preference for active-directive forms of helping among Asian Americans, African Americans, and Hispanic/Latino Americans (Sue & Sue, 2013). In addition we will explore cultural considerations specific to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and Hispanic/Latino Americans, and the implications of cultural norms and acculturation for counseling.


Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2013). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.



To successfully complete this learning unit, you will be expected to:

    1. Articulate how a counselor’s personal, cultural self-awareness may potentially impact effective counseling practices.
    2. Recognize contextual and systemic dynamics that impact counseling.
    3. Articulate the impact of immigration, poverty, and welfare on individuals and family systems.
    4. Articulate the influence of internalized oppression and institutional racism on individuals and family systems.


Learning Activities Studies


Use your textbook, Sue and Sue’s Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice, to complete the following:

    • Read Chapter 8, “Culturally Appropriate Intervention Strategies,” pages 209–232.
    • Read Chapter 16, “Counseling Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” pages 393–407.
    • Read Chapter 17, “Counseling Latinos,” pages 409–424.

Use the Internet to read Payne’s 2003 article, “Understanding and Working With Students and Adults From Poverty.”

The Impact of Diversity

You are a Caucasian intern, raised in a middle-class, primarily white suburb of Milwaukee. You are placed in the inner-city school, where you are exposed for the first time to minorities. You work with students who are having difficulties in school or have excessive absences. You are allowed to make home visits when contact by phone is not possible. One of your first such visits is to the Gonzales’ home, in a barrio on the outskirts of town, to find out more about Anna, an 8-year-old. As you approach the address, you begin to feel anxiety and trepidation. Graffiti and boarded up or dilapidated homes are everywhere. At Anna’s home, many children are playing outside in the dirt. Although they are carefree and apparently content, you question whether this environment is adequate. You also note how shabbily they are all dressed. As you approach the door, an older child, about 12, asks who you are. You tell him that you are here as a representative of the school and wish to speak to Mrs. Gonzales. At that moment a matronly, Hispanic woman approaches the door. Her hands are covered with flour, and the smell of tortillas is in the air. She seems hesitant to speak, but motions you in to sit down. She offers you a beverage, but you decline because you are worried about germs.

The home is sparsely decorated, but it does seem fairly clean. Nonetheless, you feel uncomfortable. When you ask about Anna, she takes you into one of the bedrooms in the small duplex. Anna is sleeping at one end of the bed. The older boy says that Anna has been ill these last few weeks and has been sleeping a great deal. The local health clinic diagnosed her as anemic. She was told to rest and to take iron pills that it provided. You notice that this room is cluttered and ask who else sleeps here. The boy states that Anna shares this room with her five younger siblings. You are struck by the fact that there is only one bed. You quickly conclude that this family is enmeshed and needs help with boundaries. You also wonder whether Anna has been undernourished due to improper cooking. You write your assessments on the referral form and leave abruptly.

The next day, your supervisor calls you in to discuss this assessment. She asks that you expand on your comment about, quote, an enmeshed family with no boundaries—unquote. You explain your observations. She gently chides you for lack of sensitivity to diversity issues and proceeds to explain that this family is not enmeshed, but just too poor to afford a larger home or more beds. She provides insight into cultural and socioeconomic issues you had not been aware of before. You are visibly upset. She comforts you, and says: That is why you are here—to learn!

Optional Readings

The literature is rich with resources to help counselors and therapists delve more deeply into the topics being covered in this course and to pursue their own special interests. Below you will find a reference list compiled by experts in each of the specialization areas at Capella University; look to these for information and use as you wish in your professional development. Please note that it is acceptable to draw from these resources for your discussions and assignments; however, you should not rely exclusively on these resources in completing assignments that require library research.


In Sue and Sue’s Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice, read Chapter 25, “Counseling and Poverty,” pages 517–526.

In Rastogi and Thomas’s Multicultural Couple Therapy, read the following:

Parra-Cardona, Cordova, Holtrop, Escobar-Chew, and Horsford’s chapter, “Culturally Informed Emotionally Focused Therapy With Latino/a Immigrant Couples,” pages 345–370.

Rastogi’s chapter, “Drawing Gender to the Foreground: Couple Therapy With South Asians in the United States,” pages 257–276.

In McGoldrick’s Re-visioning Family Therapy: Race, Culture, and Gender in Clinical Practice (1st ed.), read Falicov’s chapter, “The Cultural Meaning of Family Triangles,” pages 37–49. (Note that this is in the first edition of this book; the rest of your optional readings are in the second edition.)

In Norcross and Goldfried’s Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration (2nd ed.), read Ivey and Brooks-Harris’s chapter, “Integrative Psychotherapy With Culturally Diverse Clients.”


Read Fontes’s 2002 article, “Child Discipline and Physical Abuse in Immigrant Latino Families: Reducing Violence and Misunderstandings,” in Journal of Counseling & Development, volume 80, issue 1, pages 31–40.

Read Lassiter and Chang’s 2006 article, “Perceived Multicultural Competency of Certified Substance Abuse Counselors,” in Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, volume 26, issue 2, pages 73–83.

Read Sato Vosburg’s 2004 article, “Toward Triadic Communication: A Crisis in Japanese Family Relationships,” in Journal of Family Psychotherapy, volume 15, issue 1/2, pages 105–117.


 Question 1: 1 page needed with two references. Please send these assignments with different attachment. Thanks!                                          

Communication Styles

Referring to your reading and the presentation The Impact of Diversity, prepare a post that completes the following:

    • Discuss the centrality of communication (verbal and non-verbal) in counseling with diverse clients. Briefly define proxemics, kinesics, paralanguage, and high-low context communication.
    • Consider the counselor’s communication in The Impact of Diversity and analyze how her communications may have been perceived by the Gonzalez family (for example, quietly jotting notes on a clipboard, refusing a refreshment).
    • How could increased awareness of cultural considerations related to ethnicity and economic resources improve the counseling intern’s interactions with and understanding of the Gonzalez family?


Question 2: 1 page needed with two references.

Immigration and Acculturation

Use the readings of this unit regarding the concerns confronting Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and Hispanic/Latino Americans in the United States to complete this discussion activity.

    • Explain how institutional racism could result in internalized oppression for members of marginalized populations. Provide an example.
    • Discuss how historical and current views on immigration result in challenges. Provide an example.
    • In your own words, define acculturation and provide an example of how this may impact ethnic minorities and their families.

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