One of the most promising approaches to the field of multicultural counseling/therapy has been the work on racial/cultural identity development among minority groups. This model acknowledges within groups differences that have implications for treatment. The high failure-to-return rate of many clients seems to be intimately connected to the mental health professional’s inability to assess the cultural identity of clients accurately. The model also acknowledges sociopolitical influences shaping minority identity.
Atkinson, Morten, and Sue (1979, 1989, 1998; Sue & Sue, 2008) proposed a five-stage Minority Identity Development Model (MID) in an attempt to pull out common features that cut across various groups. The Racial/Cultural Identity Model is comprised of five stages; the Conformity Stage, the Dissonance and Appreciating Stage, the Resistance and Immersions Stage, the Introspection Stage, and the Integrative Awareness Stage. Within each, stage Atkinson et al.
, (1998; Sue & Sue, 2008) highlight the client’s attitudes for self, others of the same minority group, others of a different minority group and attitudes towards the dominate group. In the Conformity Stage, minority individuals are distinguished by their unequivocal preference for dominant cultural values over their own. An example of the conformity stage is illustrated in the excerpt from Nisei student’s journal (1989; Sue & Sue, 2008). She identified more with the white culture having been born and raised in Arizona. She dislikes her Asian features and wanted Caucasian features.
She found the Asian women unattractive and the Asian men less desirable than their Caucasian counterparts. Unlike minority groups, White Americans in the United States represent their own reference group, and the identification set is quite strong. Lifestyles, value systems, and cultural/physical characteristics that most resemble White society are highly valued across cultural lines. T he evidence of white racism is most prevalent within this stage of the R/CID. The pressures of assimilations and acculturations are strong due to the undemonstrated salience of their own race.
In the Dissonance Stage, an individual will encounter information or experiences that are inconsistent with culturally held beliefs, attitudes, and values. An African American who believes that Blacks are lazy, untrustworthy, and inadequate may encounter an African American leader who seems to break all these stereotypes (e. g. , President Barack Obama). An African American who believes that race problems are due to laziness, untrustworthiness, or personal inadequacies of his or her own group may suddenly encounter racism on a personal level.
In my opinion, a prime example of a person within this stage of development would be Tiger Woods. Denial begins to break down, which leads to a questioning and challenging of the attitudes/beliefs of the conformity stage. In my opinion, this was clearly, what happened when Tiger Woods won the Masters and the tournament organizers openly joked that the menu would include watermelon and fried chicken. His racial dissonance was even further exacerbated when his character was maligned after he cheated on his White Wife.
Adultery is something that happens every day in today’s society; what’s more, it is perpetuated by the media /society’s stereotype of the Successful Black Athlete. In the third stage of R/CID, Resistance and Immersion the minority person tends to endorse minority-held views completely, being self-appreciating to the detriment of all other groups. Moreover, they reject the dominant values of society and culture. This type person could be what some might call a militant.
They are dedicated to reacting against White society and rejects White social, cultural, and institutional standards as having no personal validity. The person’s desire to eliminate oppression of the individual’s minority group becomes an important motivation of the individual’s behavior, which ultimately may be motivated by the affective feelings of guilt, shame, and anger (Sue & Sue, 2008). The next stage in the R/CID model is Introspection. The individual begins to discover that this deep seeded hatred of the dominate group is psychologically draining.
Moreover, the energy used to hate the dominate group is not conducive to their understanding neither themselves nor their own racial-cultural group. The resistance and immersion stage tends to be a reaction against the dominant culture and is not proactive in allowing the individual to use all energies to discover who or what he or she is. The minority shows concerns for the basis of the self-appreciation. Self-definition in the previous stage tends to be reactive (against White racism), and a need for positive self-definition in a proactive sense emerges.
The minority individual experiences feelings of discontent and discomfort with group views that may be quite rigid in the resistance and immersion stage. A Latino individual that may form a deep relationship with a person outside their culture may experience considerable pressure from his or her culturally similar peers to break off the relationship because that person is the “enemy. ” However, the personal experiences of the individual at this stage may not support this group’s view. Given this premise, it is important to know that some clinicians may confuse this stage with parts of the conformity stage.
However, motivations between the two stages are different. In the final stage of the Racial/ Cultural Development Model, Integrative Awareness, the minority exhibits behaviors that one might attribute to a well-rounded individual. Theyhave developed an inner sense of security and can now own and appreciate the unique aspects of their culture as well as those in the dominant culture. Conflicts and dissatisfactions experienced in the previous stages become resolved, thus allowing greater individual control and flexibility (Sue and Sue, 2008).
The two major problems in providing effective mental health services to racial, ethnic, and cultural minorities are these groups' under-utilization of mental health services and their premature termination from such services when they do seek help for their psychological problems. An understanding of cultural identity development should prepare therapists and counselors to the role that oppression plays in a minority individual’s development (Sue & Sue, 2008). Therefore, a wider sociocultural approach to therapy is mandatory.
One of the most common mistakes in attempting to achieve cultural competence is failing to start from a foundation of technical competence and assuming that a practitioner can be culturally competent while having weak technical skills in the treatment model used. The R/CID model will give the therapist a stronger foundation from which to begin. Therapist need to recognize some of the limitations when utilizing models to bridge our cultural perception of a minority with our clients’ reality. Being sensitive to and understanding major life experiences are keys to working with ethnic families.
Moreover, not all changes in people's ways of seeing the world result from acculturation. Many ethnic families have major life experiences that directly produce powerful attitudes and beliefs and are crucial to consumer responses to treatment. These powerful life experiences are important to know because the clinician gains credibility by being able to inquire about, and understand how these stresses affect daily life, and intelligently and sensitively process these with the client (Sue & Zane, 1987). Furthermore, most minorities have developed a sharp sense for detecting condescension, manipulation, and insincerity.
Thus, the R/CID model will help facilitate the clinician through this challenge. Ultimately, the R/CID model allows helping professionals to realize the potentially changing and developmental nature of cultural identity among clients. Our principle should not fall victim to the stereotypes in using the model. The model, although utilized by the clinician, should be used as a tool to benefit the client. Second, the model will aid therapists in recognizing differences between members of the same minority group due to the fact that Race is not the same as culture. There are, for example, "Black Latinos" residing in the United States.
These persons are racially Black African but culturally Hispanics as the result of their Latino heritage. Hence, with respect to their cultural identity the counselors who are familiar with the sequence of stages are better able to plan intervention strategies that are most effective for culturally different clients. In conclusion, treatment models alone, will not take the place of the clinician being able to build a rapport with their client. Some caveats that a therapist may experience by using the R/CID model is over generalization and following the model in sequential order.
Counselors must be cognizant that clients are at different stages, and may skip, digress, or repeat stages. The major prerequisite of using the R/CID model, is that therapist must know how and when to use certain interventions and when to deviate from the model and add components of other therapeutic approaches. Possessing a profound understanding of the Racial/ Cultural Identity Development model will help therapist to navigate through the challenges of counseling people of different races, ethnicities, and cultures.
The R/CID model gives rise to facilitating the client’s ability to begin to show trust in the therapist and become engage with their therapist, the prime goal that leads to empowering the client to work on their personal needs. References Sue, S. & Zane, N. (1987). The role of culture and cultural techniques in psychotherapy: A critique and reformulation. American Psychologist, 42, 37-45. Wing Sue, Derald; Sue, David (2008). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (5th ed. ). Hoboken, NJ, US: John Wiley & Sons Inc. xxiii 552 pp.