Sample Psychology Coursework Paper on Cultural heritage and competent counseling practices

Cultural heritage and competent counseling practices


            Cultural heritage defines a legacy of material as well as intangible characteristics of members of a given society. Such attributes are usually passed on from the past to the present generations and imparted for the wellbeing of future generations. In psychology, understanding one’s cultural heritage is critical because it ensures that people are able to understand how psychological and behavioral characteristics are rooted in a culture (Consoli et al., 2008). This paper evaluates cultural heritage from a personal point of view to establish how it can impact effective counseling practices.

Awareness of One’s Cultural Heritage

            To understand my cultural heritage, I conducted an interview with my grandmother, who immigrated to United States, and hence, is likely to have influenced our past, present, and future cultural prospect. My family traces its roots in my grandmother’s motherland in Trinidad and Tobago in West Indies, Caribbean Island. Having immigrated to United States in the early 1960s, my Grandmother obtained citizenship and laid a foundation for our family, which now comprises blacks, Chinese, and Indians. A significant cultural aspect that defines our cultural heritage is the celebration of carnival, which is culturally celebrated in Trinidad in every second month of the year. With Trinidad constituting a cosmopolitan nation with people from different cultural and ethnic backgrounds that shaped the Island, celebration of carnival instills many influences on people. Such influences include those emanating from the indelible marks brought in by the Spanish and English colonial powers, French planters, the African slaves, Indian Indentured laborers, and many other ethnic groups that settled in the Island. For instance, the dawn of 1783 saw the French planters introducing their culture, customs, and Carnival, in the form of elaborate masquerade balls, along with African slaves to Trinidad. Carnival, a period that stretched between Christmas and the start of Lent, was a time of feasting, dancing, fancy dressing, and great celebration for both the French and British. The slaves were banned from attending the festivities, and hence, would hold their celebrations back in the barrack yards where they imitated their masters’ practices while integrating rituals and folklore. Once slavery was put to an end in 1838, the freed African slaves took their Carnival to the streets. This added more flavor to the festivities as did every other immigrant population entering Trinidad. Today, Trinidad has a distinguished culture that influences the food, music, traditions, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors portrayed by individuals tracing their roots in the country.

Religious and Spiritual Traditions

            In regard to religious and spiritual traditions, my family has a Christian background where everyone is a follower of the Catholic faith. The tradition explains the basis on my strong belief in providing help and support to everyone regardless of color or race as well as following the example of Christ by showing aspects of servitude. This can positively impact my counseling practice by driving me to offer equitable services to people from all races, class and ethnic backgrounds without considering some while looking down on others.

Aspects of My Cultural Heritage that Have Resulted to Privileges for My Family and I

            The fact that my grandmother, upon her immigration into the US, obtained citizenship and secured a good profession as a nurse has been a privilege for us because it opened an avenue for our family to join the middle- class society. After settling in New York City, she called her nine children, who all became very successful in their respective fields. Their success further enhanced our family’s ability to climb the social ladder, thereby operating in the middle rather than low class society. Living in New York meant that we would interact and deal with people from different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. This was beneficial because it shielded us from any form of discrimination as people treated others equally irrespective of color, race, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.

How My Cultural Heritage May Potentially Impact Effective Counseling Practices

            Following influences instilled in me by cultural practices entangled with Carnival, it is easy to develop prejudices and stereotypical perceptions about members of other cultures, particularly those from the African American communities. This may in return violate the potentially effective counseling practices, thereby bleaching the overall purpose of counseling, which entails helping individuals to effectively employ better coping skills to solve their problems (Consoli et al., 2008). However, having members of the family with different ethnic backgrounds helps me to recognize the need to treat people with different cultural backgrounds with respect as well as offer them equitable services. This contributes to my understanding about the purpose of counseling, which is to respect others’ views and offer them the opportunity to describe their problems for themselves and reach positive decisions that are based on informed choices (Sue & Sue, 2013). Similarly, interacting with people from different cultures in New York has enabled me to recognize and be sensitive of others’ cultural differences. This contributes to my proper understanding about the role of a counselor, which is to respect other people’s culture and build strong rapport that would help a client to discuss and work out a solution to the problem bringing them for counseling. Similarly, interacting with people from diverse cultures will help me identify the most appropriate counseling therapy approach that can help clients to reach lasting solutions to their problems.

Potential Barriers or Opportunities My World View Could Present in Counseling a Client

            The fact that my family comprises  people from different ethnic backgrounds including Blacks, Chinese, and Indians, has shaped my world view by ensuring that I perceive all people as equal. This creates an opportunity for me to effectively counsel a client from a different ethnicity or race. This is especially because I am in a good position to understand cultural differences between ethnicities or races, thereby being able to effectively interpret a client’s behavior (Consoli et al., 2008). Similarly, my cultural heritage has created an opportunity for me to grow up in a family with men and women and deal with people of different genders in New York. This has created an opportunity for me to understand behavioral differences between men and women, thereby being easily able to understand as well as interpret their mannerism during counseling.

Strategies to Overcome Cultural Competence Limitations

            Stereotypical perceptions, as well as prejudices, are some of the key limitations that may affect my ability to be culturally competent during counseling. As such, it is important to boost various aspects of multicultural competence to be able to promote effective counseling practices. To boost awareness, which is a critical aspect of multicultural competence, it is important to engage in self-reflection to ensure that I am able to understand how my attitudes and beliefs impact those with a cultural background that is similar to mine as well as those that might be different. I must be open to having experienced leaders that might have varying viewpoints as regards to cultural differences (Hazler & Wilson, 2010). This ensures that my perceptions do not serve as the dominant view and hence I am able to accommodate others’ views. In promoting knowledge, it is important for me to obtain technical training on cultural competence so that I may not become culturally encapsulated. This will prevent me from becoming judgmental, stereotypical or impose my views on a client. In terms of boosting skills, it is important for me to engage in discussions based on various multicultural and social justice issues. This will ensure that I understand my motivations as well as those of people that I serve (Ahmed, 2011).


            Cultural heritage plays a critical role in influencing the multicultural competence in counseling practices. People can develop stereotypical and prejudicial perceptions about others’ cultures depending on their cultural heritage. While this can impact multicultural aspects, such as awareness, knowledge, and skills, it is important to engage in self-reflection, participate in discussions, and gain technical knowledge to be able to understand the multicultural issue and eventually adopt competent counseling practices.


Ahmed, S. (2011). In the Special Issue on Multicultural Social Justice Leadership Development: What Does it Mean to be a Culturally Competent Counselor, Social Action in Counseling and Psychology, 3(1),17-28.

Consoli, A. J., Kim, B. S. K., & Meyer, D. M. (2008). Counselors’ Values Profile: Implications for Counseling Ethnic Minority Clients, Counseling and Values, 52: 181-197.

Hazler, R. J., & Wilson, K. B. (2010). The Complex Person of the Counselor. In S. Niles (Ed.), Joining the Counseling Profession: Developing Your Identity as a Professional Counselor (pp. 365-384). Florence, KY: Lahaska Press.

Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2013). Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.