Multicultural competency rests on an intuitive recognition that cultural competence is not a mastery of a specific set of culturally appropriate skills, but an openness to understanding the experience of another who is culturally different, said Aparna Ramaswamy in a recent presentation on Cultivating Multicultural Counseling Competence.
“If we stop to consider multiculturalism, it becomes apparent that each of us has multiple cultural influences—visible cultures, such as our race, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, etc.,” said Ramaswamy, a visiting assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Education, “and invisible cultures such as socio-economic status, education, sexual orientation, mental ability, religious beliefs and illness, among others.”
Her research, she said, examines the cultivation of multicultural competence in counseling, exploring essential dispositional attributes that a competent counselor displays in a counseling session.
While mindfulness promotes attention and awareness, the process of developing it also creates similar traits, such as empathy, cultural humility and nonjudgmental attitudes. Contemplative and meditative practices are seen, she said, to engender attributes consistent with multicultural competence.
“My study explored the correlation of a mindful disposition with multicultural competence in the context of counseling,” said Ramaswamy, “while developing a protocol that could be researched in other disciplines, such as educational leadership, business, healthcare and other interactive services.”
Watch the full presentation here.