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A Critique of: Working with Multiracial Clients in Therapy: Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice. Karla D.

Briseo University of South Carolina

As a future multicultural sensitive counselor is important to understand how diversity affects the individual in his/her counseling process. The American Counseling Associations

Multicultural Guidelines (1996) provide us with the competences that a multicultural counselor should develop in the area of awareness cultural worldview, knowledge of cultural differences and cross-cultural skills pertaining to us as counselors and the client in order to understand and communicate effectively. Stating that one of the characteristics of the multicultural skilled counselor is to understand how race, culture, ethnicity, among other factors may affect the individuals personality and well being. The article Working with Multiracial Clients in Therapy: Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice (Pedrotti, Edwards & Lopez, 2008) elaborates in one aspect of the many mentioned by the ACA (1996). In the analysis of the article mentioned above I found several positive elements that will help me when counseling multiracial clients. First, the connection established by the authors

between the different theories and models existent in multiracialism, will help me to make a better case conceptualization in regards racial identity development. Second, the four themes considered in multiracial identity development: Influence of environment and context; multiracial identity development as a process not necessarily linear; ascribed identity versus selfdefinition, and the richness of multiple heritages gives me insight and tools to probe and achieve a better panorama of the client and the factors that have influence on him/her. The influence of environment and context. This element reminds me that multiracialism is part of minorities whom daily face discrimination and prejudice by society, this in turn influences the individuals beliefs and conducts creating issues in his racial identity development. Moreover, I found that Wrights (1991) four-front approach (as cited in Pedrotti, Edwards & Lopez, 2008) can help me identify the negative or positive impact, along the strengths and weakness of the clients racial heritage.

Multiracial identity development as a process that is not necessarily linear. Helped me to comprehend and take in account for my future work that multiracial models where the racial identity development is described in stages these does not necessarily follow a progressive trend, clients current state may revert to previously resolved stages or skip stages due to external factors or events, in other words racial identity is not given in static stages, but it is a continuous process, where the environment can influence the acceptation or rejection of client racial identity. Ascribed identity versus self-definition. Reminds me that there is not a universal well being state (of racial identity development), rather each individual defines his/her own well being; this state is influenced by society and the environment. Consequently, racial identity will change according to the situation, comfort and well being of the individual. For that reason, it is important to validate the clients concept of racial identity and help him/her to understand that her/his own definition should not necessarily be equal to that imposed by the society. Richness of multiple heritages. This point is important to me, as I have believed for many years multiracialism has been largely associated only with negative factors. Individuals belonging to this group have been stereotyped and therefore discriminated. I personally believe it has been commonly neglected to recognize multiracialism offers a multitude of positive elements. As a counselor, richness of multiple heritages evokes in me the responsibility to help the client to recognize the richness and strengths that his/her heritages have to offer them and how this elements or characteristics have and will continue helping them thru their lives. The authors point out that not all multiracial individuals have been marginalized by their multicultural heritage. This is an important point to keep in mind to not generalize, and to understand that these individuals will have a more positive conception of their racial identity.

The themes outlined in the paper have important guidelines to enable me to perform a better case conceptualization with clients that exhibit issues in or strongly associated to their racial identity development, furthermore it reminds me of the importance of the wellness model in the case conceptualization, highlighting the strength and resources of the client that can help the client to discover hope and strengths. However, been case conceptualization a global analysis of the elements that influence or that constitute the clients life and environment is important to include in this analysis not only the race but as well the history, social class, sexual orientation, gender, family dynamics, religion, disabilities among other elements. It is necessary to understand that the multiracial client can exhibit multiple cultural identifications along the privileges or oppression associated with these, this last have to be taken on account when performing the case conceptualization observing in the lack of attention to a global perspective the first weakness of this paper. A second weakness is that several of the paper proposals do not have studies to validate them. Third, there is no consideration to potential mistrust with monoracial counselors especially if these are white been this race historically associated to oppression against minorities and therefore against multiracial individuals. Fourth, it is missing to focus attention in the need to have a basic knowledge of the culture of the client by the part of the counselor. Finally, it did not considered the impact of the bias or prejudices that the counselor potentially holds against racial diversity and race intermixing. I believe that for future research the weakness described in the article must be taking in consideration specially a global focus. Furthermore, future investigations must include the different races that represent the multiracial diversity. I consider that for future investigations the analysis of biases such as counselor preconceptions or discomfort levels toward racial

diversity and race intermixing must be integrated as a minimum in the form of extraneous variables to be minimized or accounted for. Other studies should be targeted to study the biases exhibited by multiracial clients against counselors of white race which is considered oppressive and therefore interfering with the therapeutic alliance. In addition, it is important to

acknowledge that in the therapeutic work with multiracial clients the knowledge of the culture is indispensable for achieving a more accurate case conceptualization that will reflect a better understating of the client identity (including racial identity development stage) and environment which can be used to provide him/her with more suitable therapeutic approaches.

References American Counseling Association. (1996). Competencies. Retrieved October 30, 2010 from

http://www.counseling.org/Resources/Competencies/Multcultural_Competencies.pdf Pedrotti, J.T., Edwards, L. M., & Lopez, S. J. (2008). Working With Multiracial Clients in Therapy: Bridging Theory, Research, and Practice Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Vol. 39, No. 2, 192201.