I appreciated all the assignments for this week, and found them quite helpful. The aspects of culture help the reader to understand that while white Americans have a culture, it is so ubiquitous, we are often naive to what aspects of life are “cultural” and not just “human” or “the way everyone does it.” When we assume the latter, we get ourselves into trouble.
… as did the counselors in Sue’s examples. I read Sue during my counseling training, and was very impressed and humbled by the assumptions I had formerly been making about cultural differences. At the same time, it is easy to get overwhelmed with all the nuances. I despair of not being able to “get it right” with each individual and their culture, and worry that I may make the types of mistakes those MFT counselors made. In addition, I recognize that levels of assimilation and uniquenesses of each individual life experience can create even more nuances. So even if I knew how “most people” from a particular culture may behave, I am still making assumptions if I treat them like “most people” from their culture, rather than assessing individually what their values, beliefs, and priorities are. I teach employees at my hospital that we can’t all be experts on every culture and religion, but we can always be respectful and humble in our approach. Not making assumptions seems the most important place to start.