Domain VI: Implement and Evaluate Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Change Processes
As counsellors work with their clients and attend to issues of social injustice and inequity, it inevitably becomes apparent that intervention at the macrolevel is essential to change the broader social, economic, political systems that negatively impact client well-being. Core Competency 18 of the CRSJ counselling model (Collins, 2018) introduces these macrolevel change processes. Most often the macrolevel interventions below are implemented on behalf of clients. In some cases, a process of formal or informal cultural auditing (Collins, Arthur, & Wong-Wylie, 2010) leads counsellors to recognize themes across multiple clients that point to the need for larger scale systems change. For example, if a number of immigrant mothers experience problems accessing income support, a counsellor might consider investigating the systemic barriers specific to this population. Collaborative efforts on this level are often interprofessional, with change amplified by multiple voices. By asserting that the professional is political in Core Competency 9, I invite counselling professions to consider their historical embodiment within systems of cultural oppression, and I call on our collective will to actively promote social change (Audet, 2016; Fellner, John, & Cottell, 2016).
In some cases, counselors may collaborate to develop and implement a change process at the macrolevel (broader social, economic, or political systems). The goals of social justice action/activism are often to
- Foster equity in access to services, resources, social capital;
- Eliminate culturally oppressive policies and practices; and
- Foster inclusion and full participate in society.
With your small group, choose a credible source of national news. Come to consensus on a news story that open the door to one or more of these goals. Assume that you are members of a task force or a chapter of a national professional organization. Together map out a proposal for that organization to initiate and effect change at the macrolevel. The social justice action/activism process below builds upon the Advocacy Competencies of the American Counselling Association (Lewis et al., 2002). You may modify this process; these are not intended as fixed or comprehensive steps.
- Identify the social, political, economic, and cultural factors that pose barriers to the well-being of individuals and vulnerable groups.
- Identify challenges, opportunities, and preferred outcomes.
- Identify and develop a working alliance with potential allies for change.
- Establish achievable and well-defined goals.
- Collaborate to identify specific social change targets and processes in line with those goals (e.g., lobbying, media, public education, research).
- With allies, develop clear rationales for change, supported by credible data.
- Implement change processes—collaborative influence towards preferred outcomes.
- Evaluate outcomes and plan for sustainability.
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Throughout this teaching and learning guide, you have been exposed to myths, stereotypes, and misconceptions of various cultural groups. These perceptions persist within various cultural communities and within the broader society. I have deconstructed these sociocultural discourses in various ways in hopes that your thinking will be challenged and expanded.
It is imperative, however, that counsellors also work together to change public perceptions that disempower and oppress members of various nondominant populations.
- Select a nondominant cultural group that you are curious about or towards which you may still hold some stereotypes and biases.
- Conduct a search of popular media to see what stereotypes or cultural myths you can discover.
- Then create a list of strategies that you might use, either on your own or with other practitioners, to chip away at these public perceptions.
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When I observe what is happening around the world and see the disintegration of LGBTTQI rights and the persecution of people in many countries, I can feel quite overwhelmed and disempowered by the magnitude of the challenges. However, I have found small ways to make a contribution to global social justice through organizations like those listed below. I write letters, I sign petitions, and I provide financial support to global initiatives. Explore these website and consider other international intiatives through which you might make an active contribution towards global social justice.
Choose a nondominant cultural group to which you have some affiliation or with which you want to position yourself as an ally. Search the Internet for well-recognized organizations that advocate for social justice and human rights related to this population. Sign up for newsletters or notices about campaigns you can participate in.
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Audet, C. (2016). Social justice and advocacy in a Canadian context. In N. Gazzola, M. Buchanan, O. Sutherland, & S. Nuttgens (Eds.), Handbook of counselling and psychotherapy in Canada (pp. 95-122). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.
Collins, S. (2018). Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology [Epub version]. Victoria, BC: Counselling Concepts. Retrieved from http://www.counsellingconcepts.ca
Collins, S., Arthur, N., & Wong-Wylie, G. (2010). Enhancing reflective practice in multicultural counseling through cultural auditing. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88, 340-347. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/j.1556-6678.2010.tb00031.x
Fellner, K., John, R., & Cottell, S. (2016). Counselling Indigenous peoples in a Canadian context. In N. Gazzola, M. Buchanan, O. Sutherland, & S. Nuttgens (Eds.), Handbook of counselling and psychotherapy in Canada (pp. 123-147). Ottawa, ON: Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.