What does it mean to be a culturally responsive therapist?

Being culturally responsible means being able to identify bias in yourself and others. It means being sensitive to systems that contribute to the positive and negative reinforcement of that bias. Being culturally responsive entails being competent enough to guide clients through the process of negotiating the similarities and differences between cultures – and recognizing the effects that those boundaries have on the lives of the individuals we serve. If we come from a privileged background, it means we are sensitive to, and have a raised consciousness about, the lines and differences related to that socio-economic position. It means confronting our own personal fears, challenging our own ignorance, engaging in exploration of issues that cause us pain, and being able to identify both interpersonal and intrapersonal resources that can be leveraged in the service of growth. It means having an implicit understanding that “if there is smoke, there is probably fire.” It also means that we don’t assume the reason why the fire burns. It is the process of acknowledging that there is no “one size fits all” solution – and that we should create a new therapy for every individual client. And finally, it means continuing to grow through experience – consultation in particular.

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