The Way Forward and Understanding Cultural Factors

Responding to Ethical and Legal Issues
Case Study
Marriage and Family
Mental Health
School Counseling

Marty is a 10-year-old boy whose family moved to the United States from South America two years ago. Marty’s father was promoted to a new job, so Marty needed to transfer to a different school in the middle of the year. Marty is having a difficult time making this transition. He is small for his age and has a speech impairment that can make it challenging for others to understand him. Marty is not confident in social situations and has not had an easy time developing relationships with others in his class. He usually spends his time alone during recess and lunch and he’s reluctant to join in class projects or discussions.

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Over the past few weeks Marty has become more withdrawn. He does not respond to his teacher’s encouragement to participate in class and has not been completing his school assignments. On one occasion, the teacher found that Marty had been drawing graphic pictures of people being injured throughout his notebook. Yesterday, Marty was seen sitting alone on the playground scratching his skin with a safety pin. His marks were superficial, but the behavior was concerning enough to ask the school counselor to meet with Marty.

During the counseling session, Marty discloses that he is being bullied by several boys at the school. They have taken his lunch money, ripped up his notebooks, and punched him in the back and stomach. The boys have warned Marty if he tells anyone, they will break into his house and hurt his little sister, so he refuses to identify them.

Marty also reveals that he had a similar problem at his previous school where an older boy bullied him repeatedly for several months. He breaks into tears and begs his counselor to keep everything he’s said a secret.

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As a helper, you will meet clients who differ from you in many ways: abilities, accent, age, attractiveness, color, developmental stage, disabilities, economic status, education, ethnicity, fitness, gender, group culture, health, national origin, occupation, personal culture, personality variables, politics, problem type, religion, sexual orientation, social status, and values—to name some of the major categories. These differences come with inherent advantages and disadvantages. Your ability to work with clients who are different, and sometimes quite different, from you is one of the major requirements for being an effective helper. On a scale of 1-7 (with 7 a very high score), rate yourself on the following statements. Try to be as honest as possible in your self-appraisal. We all have room for growth when it comes to being aware and positively embracing diversity. Just look around the world.

• I enjoy meeting and interacting with people who are different from me.

• I would not like to live (don’t like living) in a homogeneous culture.

• Even when my initial reactions to people are negative, I try to understand rather than judge them.

• I fully understand that people (including myself) are not perfect and I make reasonable allowances for this.

• I probably have blind spots when it comes to the way I treat people, but I’d like to know what they are so that I can deal with them.

• I see culture as a two-way street: I want to understand and respect the cultural differences of others, but I also expect them to do the same for me.

• I realize that my understanding of other people’s cultures will always be partial and fallible.

• I want to understand others in the key diversity and cultural contexts of their lives.

• Because of the richness of human diversity, when I meet and deal with others I am always a learner.

• I think that it is important for me to understand whatever diversity and cultural biases (such as racism, anti-Arabism, anti-Semitism, and the like) I have and to deal with them.

• Although I realize that differences can be a cause of conflict, I believe that differences can also be a source of human enrichment.

Consider your high scores and your low scores. Share key insights about yourself with a friend or learning partner.















Select one scenario from the Responding to Ethical and Legal Issues – Case Study multimedia presentation and discuss the client’s identity.

Describe the client’s stage in life, gender dynamics, race or ethnicity, economic status, et cetera.
Consider your results from Exercise 3.6, “Appraise Your Ability to Work With Diversity,” on page 25 in your exercise manual. (You completed this assessment during Unit 1.) Do you believe you would be prepared to work with this client and demonstrate cultural competence?
What cultural factors would be important to keep in mind as you meet with the client?

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