Social and cultural differences are frequent among people who come to therapeutic practices. Moreover, these differences can be the reason for certain individuals’ trauma and affect them in a way that must be considered by therapists. Special populations face many obstacles in life and fear being misunderstood by their counselors in therapy. This category includes not only people of color but also individuals with disabilities, individuals from economically disadvantaged families, foster children, and so on.
One of the biggest issues that special populations encounter in additional treatment is the lack of consideration of their environment and descent. Most traditional therapeutic models and techniques were “developed by and for White, male, middle-class, Western clients” (Corey, 2017, p. 43). Representatives of special populations are concerned that the same approaches are going to be applied to them. Disregarding such characteristics about clients as their racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and identities is unprofessional and disrespectful. Incompetent counselors may be unable to cope with the social aspect of the problem while dealing with clients suffering from social injustice. It is also crucial to be fair about various ethnic and cultural patterns that can influence the diagnostic process. Ignoring cultural variables can result in certain clients being misdiagnosed.
An exemplary therapist must provide their clients with the best treatment despite their social or cultural backgrounds. However, it is necessary to “take the client’s cultural context into account in counseling practice” (Corey, 2017, p. 42). A competent therapist must be educated about the techniques that can be applied to the counseling case. These experts understand what their clients need and do not force them into biased models. Appropriate counseling theory deals with social and cultural factors in personal matters. Counselors use many traditional therapies to help clients learn more about how to overcome their obstacles and difficulties. The approach of feminism, postmodernity, and family systems emphasizes the need to focus on both personal and social factors.
In working with special populations, I would use the assessment and diagnosis methods. Assessment and diagnosis are related to counseling and psychotherapy and often considered essential to treatment planning. The assessment consists of evaluating factors related to the client’s personal life and story to establish further study topics during the consultation process. Sometimes, as part of the evaluation process, diagnosis consists of identifying specific mental disorders based on symptoms that lead to a particular diagnosis. Both evaluation and diagnosis can be understood as guidelines in the treatment process. Psychological diagnosis is the examination and explanation of the client’s problem. It may include a description of the patient’s difficulties, a depiction of how these problems have evolved, the classification of the disorder, preferred treatment procedure, and the possibility of evaluating a successful solution. In counseling, the purpose of diagnosis is to identify violations of the client’s current behavior and lifestyle. When problem areas are clearly identified, the counselor and client can set goals for the treatment process, and the treatment plan can be customized in accordance with the client’s unique needs. The diagnosis provides a working hypothesis that helps practitioners understand the client. This scheme appears to be suitable for any individual, including special population groups. Applying assessment and diagnosis, carefully examining clients’ life circumstances, as well as ethical specificities, are the key to a successful journey in therapy. Being understanding, inclusive, tolerant, and educating themselves on social and cultural issues are mandatory obligations for all specialists.
Corey, G. (2017). Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy (10th ed.). Cengage Learning.