The Focus on Cultural Competency in the Social Work Profession Essay

The Focus on Cultural Competency in the Social Work Profession Essay

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The focus of social work practice can be best described as a pendulum, with major theoretical shifts occurring in accordance with, among many things, social climate, funding, and federal and state legislation. Thus, incorporating concepts of cultural competency into the clinical setting has been an evolutionary process. The focus on cultural competency in the social work profession has developed from a trend, to what is now regarded as an academic knowledge base and professional standard (Bridge, Massie & Mills, 2008). The nineties marked a shift towards multicultural and cultural diversity competency, it is still a fairly novel concept….. In many instances discussions on cultural competency have been broached by non-social work professionals and in terms of multicultural therapy and counseling (Lu, Lum & Chen, 2001). With the client population becoming a more expansive group in terms of socioeconomic level, race, gender identification, and sexual orientation, it is imperative that clinicians engaged in cross-cultural work conduct ongoing “self-inventories,” and be involved in collaborative discussions with their agency in regards to cultural competency. The following paper will be a perspective on my conception of cultural competency as a clinical social worker in an agency setting.
McPhatter (1997) defines cultural competency as the ability to bring cultural awareness and understanding into “health and/or psychosocial interventions that support and sustain healthy client-system functioning within the appropriate cultural context (pg.261).” Akin to many of my peers, I am inclined to envision myself upon graduation as a self-aware, knowledgeable, enthusiastic clinician capable of servicing all kinds of clients without prejudices...


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...ural contexts, it is crucial that cultural competency garners attention from both the clinician, and agency. The ongoing work involved in this journey is emotionally demanding, and I find it incredibly helpful to revisit the very reason why I choose this profession. As Elizabeth J. Clarke, Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers so eloquently states, “We are holders of hope for our clients, our communities, and our society…. social work is the last best profession (pg.11).” Given that, it is critical that as social workers we remember that although discussing societal constructs, such as, racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia in the therapeutic relationship can be remarkably challenging, by engaging in such conversations you are combating the power that these constructs possess in your life, your client’s and the global society at large.

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