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The Culture Part

Author:

Jakayla obtained her MSW degree from the University of Central Florida.

Client and Culture

The most beautiful thing about culture is that it extends beyond our skin color, our ethnicity, and our tribe (or group of belonging). It reaches our socioeconomic status, our various abilities and disabilities, our education, the region, city, or country we are from, the region, city or country we live in now, and so much more!

If you have thought or heard or believed that you have no culture, you should know that is not the truth. It does not matter who we are, everyone has a culture. At times, identifying culture can assist clinicians in our aim to better understand clients as cultural identity contributes to their overall well-being.

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"We understand the world through the lens of culture."

— LGBTIQINTERSECT.org

Attempting to Define Culture

One of (because there are many) Merriam-Webster's definitions of culture is "the characteristic features of everyday existence (such as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time."

My perceptional definition of culture can be defined as elements of a person’s characteristics that also belong to a larger group. Examples of this are questions such as:

  • Who are you?
  • Where are you from?
  • Tell me about your family.
  • What are you passionate about?
  • What activities or things do you enjoy?
  • What helps you choose between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors?

We can expand or get more specific on each of these questions as much as we would like to.

Importance of Culture

A client’s choice in how they express who they are and where they come from is never right or wrong. It is about what is a reality for them and if they believe their choices or practices are producing distress or are helpful to them.

Every culture or ethnic group of people has something valuable to offer the rest of the world. Every culture has some challenging parts of their history they need the rest of the world to help them overcome.

While it is true that everyone has culture, it is understood that it can be challenging at times to identify our own culture. For clinicians, there are instances where identifying or partnering with a client in identifying culture, is important for the healing process.

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A Starting Assessment

This is an opening assessment for identifying culture. It may be that this assessment is only a start and the client expands it beyond therapy, and that is ok. Full understanding of this part of ourselves does not have to come quickly or in one session.

Culture Identity Questions:

  • List your race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status (SES), resident county, resident country of origin.
  • What does this mean to you about how you show up in the world?
  • What makes it important to know who you are and where you come from? What makes this not important?
  • Can culture be fluid or is it concrete? What would either of these mean to you? What does either of these look like to you?
  • Remember nothing that you say is wrong and it is ok if you are unsure.

We can expand or get more specific on each of these questions as much as we would like to.

© 2020 Jakayla