COUN 5279 Unit 5 Assignment: Diversity Issues in Career Counseling

Abstract

This paper analyses a case for career counseling by identifying the cultural factors of an African American client who is a single mother with two children and without employment. The paper evaluates the challenges besides possible biases and assumptions in dealing with the client and suggests effective strategies of dealing with the counseling process. The author also provides fitting solutions to the various problems encountered.

COUN 5279 Unit 5 Assignment: Diversity Issues in Career Counseling

Introduction

Career counseling is a diverse discipline requiring consideration of various factors for effective client experience. Client attributes such as age, gender, cultural values, biases and world views significantly influence how the counselor should handle the case to attain maximum client cooperation and satisfaction. This paper analyzes the biases, assumptions and cultural factors associated with the case aiming at demonstrating cultural competence, identifying limitations regarding career counseling and formulating an effective plan to develop required skills. The significance of considering the concerned factors cannot be overemphasized.

Case Study

Margaret is an African American lady aged 33 years with two children aged 14 and 8 years. She is recently divorced and does not have employment. She has had experience working as a secretary for a real estate firm, which she quit following delivery of her second child. Although she does not have a degree, she completed two years at a community college.

Client’s Career Development

Margaret is in the Stabilization phase of career development, according to Super Theory. The Stabilization phase includes individuals aged between 24 and 35 years, who confirm their preferred career by engaging in actual work experience and applying talents to display their career choice as the ideal (Super,  1990). At this career developmental stage, the majority of individuals have an assurance of security in their career owing to their firm grounding and establishment over precedent years. Margaret case is challenging since her absence of a stable employment renders her unable of having career security. This fact will present as a limitation to the counselor, who would have to resort to a different phase of career development that is suitable for Margaret. Also, the client is a female, which translates to more emotional involvement during the counseling process. Females tend to open up to persons who actively appeal to their emotional side and would respond positively to a counselor who engages in the counseling process with immense emotional consideration.

Being a single mother is another social factor that cannot be ignored. Whereas most ladies share their emotional and financial insecurities with male partners, single mothers may have to handle all insecurities and worries on their own owing to the absence of a dependable male figure (Liang, Berger & Brand, 2019). The client is an African American, which predisposes her to more stressors linked to racism and discrimination (Franklin, Franklin & Kelly, 2016). Reliable studies suggest that adult African Americans have twenty percent more likelihood for developing psychological distress compared to adult Whites. Moreover, the lack of a job exposes Margaret to more socioeconomic insecurity as living below the poverty line predisposes adult African Americans to more psychological distress than persons living above poverty.

Biases and Assumptions

Several biases and assumptions may affect the career counseling process from the client’s and counselor’s perspective. First, the fact that females have more tendencies to be emotionally involved in the counseling process should be handled with caution. Several women know their emotional limitations and thus prefer to be less emotionally involved during daily activities. Attempting to appeal to the emotional side of such a client could prove to be futile. A less emotionally involved client would create an emotional wall that would hinder efficient communication with the counselor.

Furthermore, while African Americans have more stressors resulting from racial discrimination, not all persons of color have experienced the vices in their lifetime. In Margaret’s case, her life experience might be completely oblivious of racism with its related discrimination; thus she might require an approach that does not delve deep into racism.

The fact that single mothers may have more financial and emotional insecurities could also be classified as an assumption. Whereas it is true that most ladies share their insecurities with male partners, it does not necessarily imply that a single mother would lack a person to communicate her insecurities to (Liang, Berger & Brand, 2019). Some single mothers may have several male partners who are reliable and considerate in their relationship. Moreover, single mothers may also have support groups where they discuss their life challenges with other single mothers. The counselor should consider that the client may have more social and emotional support than expected, which would promote client cooperation in the counseling process as opposed to viewing her simply as vulnerable.

Self-Assessment

Biases and assumptions regarding African Americans, single mothers and women in general are abundant. African Americans are viewed as having more stressors than Whites, which increases the former’s likelihood for developing psychological distress. On the contrary, reliable evidence from recent studies reveals that stronger mechanisms of coping with stress decrease the likelihood for depression among African Americans (Williams, 2018). The means of decreasing biases and assumptions regarding African Americans would include increasing social interactions with them. This approach would enable understanding of life from their perspective and probably highlight challenges, successes or other positive attributes that may be unknown regarding the population. A similar strategy would decrease bias when counseling women and single mothers. Direct social interaction with single mothers and generally women may reveal their points of strength while highlighting areas where women were traditionally misunderstood.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, counseling is an intricate process that requires appropriate consideration of several client and counselor factors for a resourceful and satisfying counseling experience. The role of the biases, assumptions and cultural factors associated with the case while aiming at demonstrating cultural competence, identifying limitations regarding career counseling and formulating an effective plan to develop required skills cannot be overemphasized. These facts have been adequately presented in this paper.

References for COUN 5279 Unit 5 Assignment: Diversity Issues in Career Counseling

  • Franklin, A., Franklin, N. & Kelly, S. (2021) Ethnicity and Health in America Series: Invisibility in the African-American Community. American Psychological Association. https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/african-american/stress
  • Liang, L. A., Berger, U., & Brand, C. (2019). Psychosocial factors associated with symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress among single mothers with young children: A population-based study. Journal of Affective Disorders242, 255-264. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2018.08.013
  • Super, D. (1990). Super in Career Choice and Development: Applying Contemporary Theories in Practice : A Life-Span Approach in Career Development. Jossey-Bass Inc, 2nd Edition.
  • Williams, D. (2018) Stress and the Mental Health of Populations of Color: Advancing Our Understanding of Race-Related Stressors. US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6532404/