Multicultural Counseling in a Divided and Traumatized Society: The Meaning of Childhood and Adolescence in South Africa

Multicultural Counseling in a Divided and Traumatized Society: The Meaning of Childhood and Adolescence in South Africa

Multicultural Counseling in a Divided and Traumatized Society: The Meaning of Childhood and Adolescence in South Africa

Multicultural Counseling in a Divided and Traumatized Society: The Meaning of Childhood and Adolescence in South Africa

Synopsis

This book is developed from the framework of locating childhood and adolescence within the wider context of South African society. The merging world-view and identity of South African children are described. A portion of the book describes the psychological traumas associated with political unrest and a society undergoing major transition, paying particular attention to three major traumas: child abuse and neglect, children who have been the victims of an unjust and inequitable educational system, and children caught in the "war" of political violence. The book addresses issues within the South African context by recognizing the effects of the wider social, economic, and political setting. By promoting a better understanding of diverse cultures, a mechanism is in place for bringing about reconciliation in a divided society.

Excerpt

South Africa has much to teach us in other countries about our own apartheid and our very limited success in dealing with it. As each country and culture becomes aware of the power of multicultural awareness as a bottom-up, consumer-driven revolution of modern society, it becomes important for them to learn from the others about what works and what does not work. South Africa has provided a laboratory of both the problems and the opportunities in multicultural awareness. This book seeks to guide the counselor through each learning experience toward increased multicultural awareness, not only about South Africa but, by extrapolation, about other countries and cultures as well.

Culture provides the foundation of identity, and therefore, the basis of all communication. Each behavior is displayed in a cultural context of learned values, expectations and perceptions of reality. Multicultural awareness, therefore, is the process of learning about the culturally learned assumptions that control behavior and the perception of reality. Each person’s decisions are based on those culturally learned perceptions. Multicultural awareness is not merely learning about exotic societies in far away places, but also about the sources of assumptions and the contrasting assumptions of culturally different others.

South Africa provides an ideal example by which to examine the effect of those learned assumptions on multicultural awareness, because the different culturally learned assumptions were especially well-defined throughout society by explicit and precise rules. South Africa also provides a multicultural laboratory by which to examine the effect of explicit cultural differences so that we can learn more about implicit cultural differences in our own cultures.

Hickson and Kriegler do a masterful job of testing what we know—or think . . .

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