Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Effect of Honduran Counseling Practices on the North American Counseling Profession: The Power of Poverty

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Effect of Honduran Counseling Practices on the North American Counseling Profession: The Power of Poverty

Article excerpt

The purpose of this qualitative investigation was to identify indigenous characteristics of the counseling process in the Central American country of Honduras. The core question of this investigation was "How is the practice of counseling conducted in a culture with a developing economy and one that is relatively isolated from direct influences of the North American counseling profession?"

This research question was influenced by Neville and Mobley's (2001) contrast of a micro versus a macrounderstanding of multicultural integration. The microunderstanding emphasizes a best practices concept. The operating question is "How should I implement established interventions developed within my cultural context to best address the mental health needs of a client who possesses a unique composite of cultural values?" The counselor assumes the cultural perspective of the client and adjusts her or his established mode of treatment to fit the unique needs of the client.

The macrounderstanding of counseling constitutes a different view of multiculturalism. On this level, the meta-assumptions from the respective cultures of counselor and client are examined. The macrounderstanding focuses on the philosophical foundations of counseling that have their origin in a specific culture. The examination of counseling on this level is to focus on the counseling process rather than on counseling interventions--it is about being rather than technique. The fundamental assumptions emerging from institutions within a culture are examined and allowed to shape the nature of the helping process. The macro level permits the structures of counseling practice to be influenced by the values of another culture. A multicultural professional on this level should ask, "How is human caregiving understood outside of one's indigenous community?" and "How do the practices of professionals from other cultures influence my practice?"

To be multicultural on the macro level, counselors must permit the administration of human caregiving from culturally diverse settings to influence our thinking about counseling in North American contexts. International applications of counseling have generally meant the exportation of North American counseling perspectives, rather than learning innovative perspectives on the profession from others. This international perspective on multicultural counseling has created an emphasis on international counseling (Bond et al., 2001; Leong & Ponterotto, 2003) and has been the focus of transcultural psychotherapy and the work of Torrey (1972) and Frank and Frank (1961).

Pedersen and Leong (1997) addressed some of the common assumptions of counseling in North American culture that may have limited application in professional practice in cultures other than North American ones.

   Counseling continues to presume an individualistic perspective in
   which dependency is always bad, freedom of choice is always
   constructive, dual relationships are unethical, privacy is
   universally valued, and the welfare of each individual is always
   more important than the welfare of the group to which that
   individual belongs. In the global, more typically collective
   context this perspective is exotic and extraordinary. More contact
   with colleagues from collectivistic cultures will help us increase
   the generalizability of counseling psychology. (p. 118)

The implementation of multicultural counseling on a macrosystems level requires the expansion of the concept of multiculturalism from a North American or Northern European perspective to one that encompasses a worldwide point of view. Leong and Blustein (2000) stated,

   It is now abundantly clear that counseling occurs within a cultural
   context
 To understand which aspects of counseling are
   culture-general and which aspects are culture-specific, we need to
   take a global and comparative approach to counseling. … 
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