The counseling profession has for a long time been applied to help clients deal with their emotional problems, as well as retain their coping mechanisms. Counseling is a helping profession, which helps individuals deal with and live through disappointing moments, which disable the coping mechanisms or people. Arguably, human beings of all races and color experience stressing moments at one point in their life. Stressing moments of life could entail feelings of emotional turmoil after losing a relative of a close friend, or a life experience that gives individuals horrible memories and feelings. Left on their own, stressed individuals develops severe dysfunctions, which temper with the daily activities and functioning of individuals. Most importantly, counseling intervention is vital to the life individuals because people who are stressed can easily find their way to depression. Unless such dysfunctions are treated, they can kill clients within days (Murphy-Berman, 2003). This explanation spells out the significance of the counseling profession, which is crucial for the structure of this paper (Chin, 2004). This brief overview will analyze the impact of prejudice and bias on counseling relationships. Further, the paper will explore responsibilities of a professional counselor to advocate for parity and diversity of service.
Prejudice and Bias and Counseling
Prejudice describes the negative assumption or prejudgment made concerning an individual, without significant information to judge such an individual. Prejudice makes people reach conclusions about other people without certainty or accuracy. Prejudice is preconceived judgment on an individual due to gender, race, disability, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation among others (Neukrug, 2001). In most cases, prejudice leads to other severe social evils as discrimination, which exposes people to mistreatment because of their appearance, but not their character or potential. On the same note, Bias describes an inclination of holding a partial perspective at the cost other valid alternatives (Kottler & Shepard, 2011). A biased aspect lacks a neutral view point; as they are always one-sided. It is imperative to note that prejudice and bias are used interchangeably, and they may mean more or else the same thing (Murphy-Berman, 2003).
The two terms discussed above, prejudice and bias, are extremely significant in counseling relationships. Prejudice and bias affect the establishment of a productive relationship between the counselor and the client. There are times when counselors are tempted to judge their clients with their appearance and form an attitude about these people (Neukrug, 2001). It is essential that a counselor maintains an enabling environment and regard every client with respect and dignity. A counseling intervention cannot be effective, unless the client feels that he is being appreciated. It is imperative for a counselor to comprehend the fact that the counseling profession is placed at the centre of human life. This position means people will seek counseling service from different walks of life, and they come with different issues of life.
Essentially, if a counselor is guided by prejudice or bias in their judgments, then the counseling relationship that will be developed will be entirely unproductive; as this will affect the intervention and case building (Neukrug, 2001). A counselor should avoid judging people with their ethnicity of color. Counselors should listen to every client’s story, as well as handle the case objectively as a counselor one cannot chose the clients or the race of the clients that come for help (Murphy-Berman, 2003). Therefore, one should be prepared to deal with people of all races and religious beliefs using a single concept that they are all clients seeking professional help. It has been proved beyond doubt that human beings are all unique and different, and they cannot behave the same. These differences are the ones that make people who they are, and nobody should assume that people are supposed to this way or that way (Neukrug, 2001). The best thing that a counselor should do is accept cultural relativism and individual differences as people cannot behave in the same way as other people (Murphy-Berman, 2003).
Notably, a person can be inclined or biased over another person, without any intention to do s, or unconsciously (Murphy-Berman, 2003). This possibility is a serious issue to my work because I am strategically positioned to receive clients from different racial groups, as well as cultural beliefs. The greatest problem is that I can unconsciously express prejudice and bias to a client, and this would automatically affect my relationship with the client (Murphy-Berman, 2003). These possibilities would easily cripple my intervention approach and eventually temper with the outcome.
Diversity and Parity of Services
It has become apparent to most scholars and professionals that, for a long time, people have been judged wrongly by strangers (Murphy-Berman, 2003). Further, people have been subjected to programs that are not relevant to their life situation due to the assumption that all people will benefit from a service. On the contrary, there is nothing like a universal service or intervention that can benefit all people and help them with their life problems (Chin, 2004). Programs of mental health and counseling emphasize for parity and diversity of intervention programs to ensure that the interventions respond to the needs of different people (Sue & Sue, 1990).
Arguably, people used to hold assumptions that standards programs were crucial in dealing with universal problems and issues that affect the life of clients. However, it has been proved beyond doubt that people have come from different experiences and encounters of life (Chin, 2004). The essence of disparity of services is to ensure that all individuals get fair services and treatment, which addresses the issues that are affecting that person, instead of premeditated approaches, which leave out most of the crucial aspect of the individual situations and circumstances. It is the responsibility of a counselor to respond to the concerns of parity and disparity of services to clients.
This can be achieved by treating all clients as unique individuals and respecting their means of earning livelihoods. The best thing for a counselor is to engage into diverse and intensive research, which will ensure that the counselor has ample knowledge concerning human diversity and cultural differences (Chin, 2004). With this information, then I will have understood the dynamics of human behavior; thus develop treatment plans and intervention approach after listening to the story of everyone (Sue & Sue, 1990). The responsibility of the counselor in this case is to ensure that they promote diversity in all individuals who seek their services and help people appreciate their individual uniqueness.
Expanding Perspectives of Others
There are various avenues that an individual can utilize to expanding the individual perspectives of other people. The first way of expanding individual perspective is expansive research to establish how other people view life (Chin, 2004). Research exposes an individual to plenty of information, which can expand the knowledge of a person concerning the views and beliefs of life. Inquiry into any field expands the knowledge of an individual to the extent of mastering the dynamics of a life phenomenon (Kottler & Shepard, 2011).
Secondly, I will engage into reading books and literature, which describe life using different perspective. Such books will include diverse cultural literature and books, which have been written by different authors from different cultural backgrounds (Chin, 2004). This literature will be beneficial for my quest for knowledge and expansion of the knowledge base, as well as opinion from other people.
Thirdly, I will make frequent visits to different parts of the planet to get a clue of how things are done in different places. This raveling will involve keen observations of activities and operations of other people (Sue & Sue, 1990). Apparently traveling exposes individuals to various things in the world. People do thing differently, and they think differently depending on their culture and environment. Therefore, traveling is the best way to learn how other people view things, in the world.
Fourthly, I intend to take a few courses that will facilitate a clear understanding of the human dynamics that affect human behavior. Further, these courses facilitate the interaction of people from the variant cultures and regions of the planet. During the training and the education period, I will have a chance of learning from other people (Kottler & Shepard, 2011). The final way of expanding my knowledge of other peoples’ perspective will be to expand my circle of friends. This circle will entail many friends from as many cultural backgrounds as possible. The wide circle will automatically improve mu understanding of other people through time. The interactions with these friends will give valuable experiences on how people think and behave.
- Chin, J. L. (2004). The psychology of prejudice and discrimination: 3. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Praeger Publ.
- Kottler, J. A. & Shepard, D. S. (2011). Introduction to counseling: Voices from the field. Belmont, Calif: Brooks/Cole.
- Neukrug, E. (2011). Counseling theory and practice. Australia: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning.
- Murphy-Berman, V. (2003). Cross-cultural differences in perspectives on the self. Lincoln [u.a.: Univ. of Nebraska Press.
- Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (1990). Counseling the culturally different: Theory and practice. New York: J. Wiley.