Practicing Cultural Humility

Sidney Shaw
Date of Publication: 
December, 2016
Source Organization: 

This paper endorses a revision to the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (MCCs) model, which has been a foundational document in the counseling profession for several decades. The chief flaw in the model, according to Shaw, is the "self-assessment bias" of the counselor, who typically overrates his/her abilities in relating to clients from diverse cultural backgrounds. Although the insights of MCC remain valid, they need to be supplemented with what the author calls Multicultural Orientation (MCO). This approach "privilege(s) the voice of clients and make(s) the counselor's own invisible privilege a little more visible." It requires the counselor to practice "cultural humility," which involves "engag(ing) in collaborative, open exploration with clients regarding their cultural identity as a salient factor in treatment." It also enables counselors to practice "dynamic sizing," i.e. knowing under what circumstances to generalize cultural knowledge to specific individuals. In addition, the approach helps to reduce the number of "microagressions" (reported by more than 50 percent of racial and ethnic minority clients). The paper concludes with a number of in-session recommendations for counselors interested in embracing this new approach.

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Shaw, S. (2016). Practicing Cultural Humility. American Counseling Association, Counseling Today. 

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