As a social worker, it is common to work with clients whose backgrounds, ethnicity, and life experiences are far different from your own. One of the core competencies of social work practice is cultural competence, which is a practice model that focuses on awareness of and respect for the customs, values, traditions, and even parenting styles of clients you will work with. You must also understand and be aware of the wide range of differences within groups just as there is often a wide range of differences between groups. As a social worker, it is critically important that you are aware of how your own culture and cultural beliefs can influence your perception of others. This can include aspects of culture such as gender identity, sexual orientation, immigration status, family structure, and religious or spiritual beliefs.
Cultural competency is also about developing your skills as a future social worker.
It is important to think in a flexible and open manner when helping others. This
means that you often need to confront your own beliefs (which may be false), and you may need to confront your own assumptions and stereotypes of people different from yourself. In a helping profession such as social work, you will frequently engage in perspective taking, which is viewing client issues and situations from their perspective. You will eventually understand that your own thinking is not the only way in which to view or address a problem.
Another aspect of cultural competence is cultural humility, which places emphasis on the role you have as a social worker and being a learner in this client-practitioner relationship. In this sense, cultural humility empowers clients to be experts in their own life and circumstances rather than the culmination of a practitioner’s accrued knowledge and awareness of cultural information.
Be sure to review this week’s resources carefully. You are expected to apply the information from these resources when you prepare your assignments.
Books and Resources for this Week
Hall, E., & Lindsey, S. (2014). Teaching cultural competence: A closer look at racial and ethnic identity formation. The New Social Worker, 21(3), 4.
Harrison, G., & Turner, R. (2011). Being a ‘culturally competent’ social worker: Making sense of a murky concept in practice.
National Association of Social Workers. (2015). Standards and implications of cultural competence for social work practice.
Week 2 – Assignment: Develop a Cultural Competence Resource & Reflection
- Choose a population with which you are not familiar. This can be a population defined by age, class, color, culture, disability and ability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, immigration status, marital status, political ideology, race, religion/ spirituality, sex, sexual orientation, and tribal sovereign status.
- Briefly explain why you chose this particular population.
- Based on critical aspects of cultural competence identified in this week’s readings, prepare a list of ten questions aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of your population’s cultural needs. These are not questions that you would necessarily ask a client, but academic questions aimed at improving cultural competence.
- Prepare a two-paragraph response to each of your questions. In the first paragraph, explain why you believe the question would assist you in gaining a better understanding of the population’s social work needs. In the second paragraph, present a simple answer to the actual question based on the week’s readings and/or research of the social work literature.
Finally, conclude your assignment with a brief personal self-reflection on your own background, values, and relationship style and how those characteristics might make it both easier and more difficult to work with your identified population. Discuss the role of social work professional values in the working relationship between you and a client in this population.
Support your assignment with at least three scholarly resources. In addition to these specified resources, other appropriate scholarly resources, including seminal articles, may be included.
Total Length: 4-6 pages, not including title and reference pages
Your assignment should demonstrate thoughtful consideration of the ideas and concepts presented in the course by providing new thoughts and insights relating directly to this topic. Your response should reflect scholarly writing and current APA standards. Be sure to adhere to Northcentral University’s Academic Integrity Policy.
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