To Say or Not To Say

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"To Say or Not To Say”: Facilitating Cultural Intelligence with

Multicultural Alertness in Higher Education


  • Multicultural Counseling: counselor’s knowledge of different racial and cultural groups, awareness of personal attitudes/ beliefs, and ability to use appropriate counseling skills when working with a diverse range of cultural groups (Barden & Greene, 2015)

  • Culture: customs, norms, practices, and social institutions, which can include psychological processes and beliefs, values, and practices, religious and spiritual traditions, that people learn and share amongst one another (Cooper & Leong, 2008; Neukrug, 2008; Liu, 2014)

  • Cultural Intelligence: multifaceted competency consisting of cultural knowledge, the practice of mindfulness, and the repertoire of behavioral skills (Crown, K.A., 2008)

  • Ethnicity: reflective of cultural practices (heritage, ancestry, language and tradition) as well as the acquisition and maintenance of cultural characteristics shared amongst a group of people (Cokley, 2005; Neukrug, 2008; Liu, 2014)

  • Race: the category to which others assign individuals on the basis of genetic heritage, physical characteristics (such as skin color or hair type) and the generalizations and stereotypes made as a result (Cooper & Leong, 2008; Liu, 2014)

  • Religious Identity: a personal affiliation or institutional self-identification with a particular religion or religious group/denomination, such as Christian, Muslim, Mormon, Lutheran, or any other religious or faith group (Snow, 2015)

  • Sexual Identity: an individual’s sexual classification which includes their sexual orientation and behaviors. Sexual Identity may include individual’s sexual self-expression which is the degree to which they publicly and socially identify as a heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning individual (Snow, 2015)

  • Social Class: the perceived ranking of an individual within a society and is based on several characteristics such as finances, occupation, position in the community, and amount of power (Neukrug, 2008)

Multicultural Competences

Competency 1: Awareness of One’s Own Cultural Values and Biases

Culturally skilled counselors are:

  • Culturally Self-Aware

  • Knowledgeable of cultural background

  • Able to recognize limits of multicultural competency

Competency 2: Awareness of Client’s Worldview

Culturally skilled counselors are:

  • Aware of negative and positive emotional reactions toward other racial and ethnic groups

  • Knowledgeable of the history and heritage of the client they are working with

  • Know the relevant multicultural research as it relates to their client

Competency 3: Knowledge of Culturally Appropriate Interventions

Culturally skilled counselor are:

  • Respectful of clients’ religious and/or spiritual beliefs and values about physical and mental functioning

  • Knowledgeable of the characteristics of counseling and how they may clash with the cultural values of various cultural groups.

  • Trained in the use of traditional assessment and testing instruments that may be used for the welfare of culturally different clients.

(Sue, Arrendondo, and Davis, 1992; Arredondo, P., Toporek, M. S., Brown, S

Literature Review and Strategies


"Multiculturalism" is the co-existence of diverse cultures, where culture includes racial, religious, or cultural groups and is manifested in customary behaviours, cultural assumptions and values, patterns of thinking, and communicative styles.

Multicultural Counseling

Multicultural counseling is defined as what occurs when the professional counselor works with a client from a different cultural group and how that might affect interactions that take place within the counseling relationship. This definition is expanded to include dissimilarities in religion and spirituality, sexual orientation, gender, age and maturity, socioeconomic class, family history, and even geographic location. The first step in effective multicultural counseling is to identify and acknowledge these differences between the counselor and client.

Addressing Multicultural Counseling Issues

One of the most effective tools counselors can utilize to engage clients from other cultures is to openly acknowledge any differences. The key is doing it in such a way that does not undermine the client’s belief that you will be able to offer professional help and potential solutions. Part of establishing rapport with multicultural clients is expressing a willingness to learn more about, and showing respect for, their worldview, belief systems, and means of problem-solving. Learning about and addressing the client’s realities will allow you to create culturally-sensitive interventions.

Ongoing Education in Multicultural Education

It’s important to understand that professional counselors never master the ability to understand every unique cultural difference; this is a continual state of learning. Working in this area of professional counseling will continually provide you with opportunities to gain new insights and skills with each new client.

Taught or Experience Learned?

• One-course model

In the one-course model, there is a stand-alone course in multicultural counseling

• Infusion model

Multicultural counseling competencies are infused throughout the curriculum and included in each course that counseling students take as part of their degree program.

Overall, it is understood that both is needed. In all courses where you are teaching adults, experience is critical to effective learning. There is definite content that can be learned didactically, but experiential learning is a critical component to real learning, especially important to multicultural competence. The experiential component gives students the opportunity to test out their old ways of looking at culture and then to try on new ways.

Key strategies that help engage students from a range of academic or social backgrounds

Interactive lecturing

An interactive lecture is an easy way for instructors to intellectually engage and involve students as active participants in a lecture-based class of any size. Interactive lectures are classes in which the instructor breaks the lecture at least once per class to have students participate in an activity that lets them work directly with the material.

The instructor might begin the interactive segment with an engagement trigger that captures and maintains student attention.

Engagement Triggers for Interactive Lecture Segments

Engagement trigger to capture student attention such as asking a thought-provoking question. Other good options are using visual appeal such as:

Evocative visuals, physical props



Evocative textual passages

News clips

Clips from movies or television shows

Why use interactive lecture?

Lecturing is a time-honored teaching technique that is an efficient method to present large amounts of content in classes of any size and it is efficient for sharing information with large numbers of students, however; the goal is not to allow students to be passive but to engage with learning, critical thinking and sharing. Lectures interactive by including techniques such as think-pair-share, demonstrations, and role playing, can foster active engagement and enhance the value of the lecture segments.

These techniques that allow all of the students to participate along with promoting student retention and learning of the material presented during lecture, give students practice in developing critical-thinking skills, and enable instructors to assess how well the class is learning that day.

Strategies that anticipate and respond to difficult discussions

Build rapport the professor to students and peer-to-peer

Guidelines for class participation

Handle “hot” moments with wisdom

Managing Hot moments in Discussion

Knowing strategies for turning difficult encounters into learning opportunities enables us to address important, but hot, topics -- religion, politics, race, class, gender -- in our classroom discussions.

When “hot” moments occur people's feelings can result to a point that threatens teaching and learning. Yet, when approached is a tactful manner using them can open doors to topics formerly avoided and classroom dynamics formerly neglected. Most importantly, exploring these tensions can lead to deep learning.

Dealing with hot moments:

  • Encourage managing ourselves

  • Find the teaching opportunities to help students learn in and from the moment.

How to Manage as a Facilitator

Hold Steady: If the facilitator is not visibly shaken by the hot moment, the students will be better able to steady themselves as well and even learn something from the moment. Their behavior provides a holding environment for the students. The students can feel safe when you appear to be in control which encourages them to explore the issues. Their behavior also provides a model for the students.

Breathe deeply: Take a moment. Comfortable silence is useful. A pause will also permit students to reflect on the issues raised.

Don't personalize remarks: Don't take remarks personally. Remembering to separate self from role can enable the facilitator to see what a student is saying more clearly and to actually discuss the issue. It's about the student and his or her feelings and thoughts, though often articulated clumsily and formed as an unthought-of through position.

Know yourself: Know your biases, know what will push your buttons and what will cause your mind to stop. Every one of us has areas in which we are vulnerable to strong feelings. Knowing what those areas are in advance can diminish the element of surprise. This self-knowledge can enable you to devise in advance strategies for managing yourself and the class when such a moment arises.

How to become Personally Cultural Competent

Examining effects of social identity

Cultivating awareness of social differences

You might identify your own attitudes toward diversity by remembering certain pivotal moments in your life. Ask yourself the following questions:

Recall the incident in which you first became aware of differences. What was your reaction? Were you the focus of attention or were others? How did that affect how you reacted to the situation?

What are the “messages” that you learned about various “minorities” or “majorities” when you were a child? At home? In school? Have your views changed considerably since then? Why or why not?

Recall an experience in which your own difference put you in an uncomfortable position vis-à-vis the people directly around you. What was that difference? How did it affect you?

How do your memories of differences affect you today? How do they (or might they) affect your teaching?


  • Develop students’ cultural awareness for a multicultural world

  • Adhere to relevant ethical codes and build strong professional identity

  • Enhance professionalism and unity at the work place

  • Build respectful professional relationships with diverse groups that came be helpful when seeking assistance in new circumstances (we are each other’s’ resource)

  • Promote advocacy professionally and consequently impact local communities

  • Embrace the role of being a global model – international students are key parts of student body and return to their home countries with a strong or weak model based on what they have learned


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