Culturally Competent Clinicians


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What are you doing to maintaining personal and professional cultural competence? What are you doing improvements when you find you are experiencing limitations to being a culturally competent clinician? These are self-evaluative questions we should always have in mind to support best practice pertaining to cultural competence in behavioral health services.

HHS Office of Minority Health merged several existing definitions to conclude the following:

“Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. “Culture” refers to integrated patterns
of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious,
or social groups. “Competence” implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities." (SAMHSA, 2014).

Culturally competent counselors are self-aware. They are aware of their own values, biases, stereotypes, assumptions and beliefs about their own and other cultural groups. While it does involve knowledge and skill, it also involves ongoing self-evaluation. Below are some questions to consider in self-evaluation:

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Reference: Cultural Competencies. TIP 59: Quick Guide for Clinicians (2014). SAMHSA.

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Last updated 02/2020

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