Leadership is one of the most commonly used words but with multiple definitions and represents multiple perspectives, ideals, and theoretical frameworks. Trusty, Looby and Sandhu (2002) identified several reasons about the importance of having a multicultural perspective as a group leader. First, group members have varied perceptions that are related to their own racial and ethnic backgrounds and experiences. A group leader then must learn to value each member’s perceptions and to respect their ethnic backgrounds and experiences rather than disregard it or worse discriminate it. Second, group members have differences on how they identified themselves with their own racial ethnic-group or adopted values held by the group. Here, the group leader should not treat each member as if they are all one person. It means a group leader must treat each member differently and appropriately.
Third are the gender differences in social perceptions and emotional reactions, and fourth, are the differences of the group members’ acculturation level (p. 252). On the third and forth, a group leader needs to explore the value of diversity and to be able to apply its benefits within his group.
On the other hand, some ways I can think of to take into account a group member’s cultural background as it pertains to group participation are the following;
1.) Be sensitive to the feelings expressed by certain members of the group.
2.) Help them to see the situation from a different perspective and in the light of other people’s experiences and difficulties.
3.) Provide insight about each other’s culture and behavior.
In the first point, there are people who are not likely to speak out what they feel and what they have in mind. They simply express their thoughts through their actions. Thus, a group leader should learn to read between the lines. Bunt (1994) cited that taking risk may be easier for some people rather than a verbal medium, for example, a timid person may risk getting very angry on the drums, without setting in motion reactions that might occur, using words. On the second and third points however, Bunt expressed that “some patterns and habits from earlier in life that may have contributed towards particular problems can be explored in the trusting setting of the group” (p. 27). If this is the case, a group leader should therefore provide an opportunity for all his or her members to reflect their own perspective for them to relate themselves to the situation.
The most effective way perhaps to take into account a group members cultural background as it pertains to group participation is to respect, listen and learn from each member’s cultural background and harmonize what has been learned from each group members. A group leader should always bear in mind that his or her group can be set up to develop specific social task and each member can begin to find an individual place and role in the group and to explore ways of feeling increasingly comfortable in relating to others. Each member can learn that they can make a unique contribution to the whole.
The kind of training that I would like to receive in multicultural counseling is the cultural knowledge of normative characteristics of specific cultural groups. In this training, I want to acquire ethnic and cultural knowledge and to develop specific counseling skills that could help me to be culturally effective in making my work. However, this can only be possible if I could be given opportunities for contact in the surrounding community with people from cultural minority backgrounds to have practicum experience with cultural minority populations.
Trends that I see in the Work Place
Among the most important trend emerging today is the evolvement of the so-called self help groups especially among women groups which, as Corey (2009) puts it, empowered them and challenged many of the social pattern of our time” (p. 357). Corey noted that while diversity is a characteristic of women groups, yet they also share a common denominator emphasizing support for the experience of women. The self-help group provide them with a social network, decrease the feeling of isolation, and create an environment that encourages sharing of experiences that help them realize that they are not alone in their experiences (Corey, p. 357). Corey pointed out that the members’ self-disclosure in the self-help groups, and the leader “foster deeper self-exploration, a sense of universality, and increased levels of cohesion” (p. 357). Nevertheless, there are various trends in the practice of group work today.
a.) Trends in the training of group therapists
The trends that I would like to see in the training of group therapists is the shift of therapeutic approach from an individual treatment to a group therapy wherein the primary responsibility is to build the group rather than focusing on solving the problem of the individual, in view of the existing concept that those who are undergoing group therapeutic treatment is crazy. Although social therapy was developed in the 1970s yet the current approaches continues to treat individual as the primary mode of treatment.
The trend that I want to see in the continuing education opportunities for group therapist is the development of manual therapy interventions. Strong, Unruh, Wright, Baxter, and Wall (2002) recognized the efficacy of manual therapy in the treatment of pain and of spinal origin. Although this treatment has been under critical consideration, Strong, Unruh, Wright, Baxter, and Wall stated this therapeutic practice “has attracted much interests over recent times (p. 189).
Trends that I see in the licensing for group therapist, is the regulations of the practice of occupational therapy wherein current occupational therapists, are required to take bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy. This is because group therapists are now shifting to manual therapy in the treatment of pain.
Trend that I see in short term structured groups as also seen by various authors is the use of a more focused short term treatment. However, there seems have not enough resources as to the reference of this trend, on the contrary, there are those who expressed that short term structured can effect change in social relationship. However, in view of the hassle and enormous financial expenses associated to long term group treatment, the use of a more focused short term treatment is the best option.
The trend that I would like to see in the group that that would meet the need of culturally diverse population is the increase in the number of people taking interest in meeting the need of culturally diverse population. This kind of trend is simply parallel trending because as the population of culturally diverse population increases the number of people comprising this group should also corresponds to the increase of the populations.
The emerging trend that I can see in the training in ethics in graduate programs for group therapists is the development of family therapy, as a unique profession. Currently, this therapy is still hotly debated, but the need of every individual family for therapists remains among the top of the list.
Bunt, L. (1994) Music Therapy: An Art Beyond Words Great Britain: Routledge
Corey, G. (2009) Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy USA: Thompson Books
Trusty, Looby, & Sandhu (2002) Multicultural Counseling USA: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.
Strong, A. Unruh, A. M., Wright, A. Baxter, D. G. & Wall, P. (2002) Pain: A Textbook for Therapist USA: El Sevier Science