In the first two parts of this series, you learned about “Finding Self in Career Development” and “The Amazonian Mystique”. Both of these subjects were topics of conversation at the Maryland Counseling Association (MCA) conference held earlier this month. The theme of the conference was Courageous Conversations: Diversity and Inclusion. Day two of the conference featured even more courageous conversations…
The discussions covered Disability, Ableism, Aging and Resilience, Veteran Mental Health Issues, Integrating Spirituality with LGBTQ Clients and more. Which session did I attend? I sat in on “How To Address White Privilege and Cultural Awareness with Marginalized Populations as a “White” School Counselor”.
Facilitating and leading the discussion was School Counselor and Mental Health Therapist in Private Practice, Jessica Gottlieb, MA, LCPC, NCC. According to Ms. Gottlieb:
“ White privilege and cultural realities do not have to be an elephant in the room if you are a practitioner that identifies – or is labeled – as “white”. In fact, addressing it head on can help build trust with students/clients and their families.”
The intent of the session was to educate counselors on how to talk about cultural realities with students/clients of color, and white students/clients as well.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but individuals of various ages, race, and gender attended the session. With such diverse backgrounds, we were able to have a very rich and meaningful conversation. As with the presentation on The Amazonian Mystique, I was surprised to learn how many studies have been done on this subject. For example, Peggy McIntosh, associate director of the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, wrote about daily effects of white privilege in her work.
In the counseling industry, especially within the educational system, counselors work with students of all different backgrounds. In many communities, there is a cultural divide, which often leads to a lack of trust. Counselors want to establish a rapport and trust with their clients. The learned behaviors and perceptions in these communities can make this difficult.
Jessica shared her personal experiences and how she was able to develop strategies for working with clients of backgrounds that are very different from hers. Others shared their experiences and how they could apply what they learned during the workshop. What I noticed is, the session was one that was easily transferable to a corporate or office setting.
You may have lived a different life than the person you’re working with or for, but you can use strategies to communicate more effectively. Many avoid having any conversations about differences but the courageous conversation serves to educate one another. It can lead to a new found respect.
If you would like more information on Jessica’s session, you can connect with her through her website at www.gottliebtherapy.com.
With the serious work out of the way, the conference transitioned to an evening of festivities and fun. I didn’t know hanging out with counselors could be so much fun! Find out just how much as we continue the series in my next article, Courageous Conversations with MCA – Karaoke Counselors.
Carolyn R. Owens has over 25 years of proven experience and serves as a Career Strategist, Leadership and Life Coach. She is the Chairwoman and CEO of Infinity Coaching, Inc. where they help you up-level your skills so you can up-level your income. Infinity Coaching, Inc. provides one-on-one and group coaching, organizational training, personality assessments and a signature program, the Infinity Coaching Inner Circle. Find out more at http://www.infinitycoaching.net