Multicultural Counseling: Perspectives from Counselors as Clients of Color

By Aretha Faye Marbley | Go to book overview

2
An Amalgam of Cultural Stories

It’s 2:15 a.m. Sunday morning, and I sit here at my computer analyzing my data and grappling with my feel-
ings and thoughts about my chosen profession.

One of the final questions I had asked each of the participants was to use a word or phrase that would capture what
they felt about counseling.

Sitting here reflecting, I began to hear each of their distinct voices one by one. All eight of their male and female
voices—the African Americans, American Indians, Hispanics and Latinos, and Asians begin to chime in such unison and
humanness—with a sort of collective consciousness, capturing the essence of what we do as counselors. Rather than mar-
ginality, inequities, social injustice, racism, oppression, and discrimination, their words ring out with messages of growth,
renewal, compassion, collaboration, spirituality, conviction, faith, and hope.

One by one, their words (which capture what counseling means to them) resonated in my mind: “Ambivalence,
because that’s my idea of counseling in real life; how it’s taught and how it’s practiced”; “A relationship between two
people: I have to look at it that way”; “It reminds me of a caterpillar that turns into a butterfly”; “Unique, because every-
one, every case, every individual is unique in his or her own way”; “Like smoke—it starts from the outside and you breathe
it in and it totally covers you to purify you”; “It’s like a pilgrim’s journey and this person has invited me to walk with him
for the short stretch, and for that short period of time our paths intersect. The Bible says, ‘In a multitude of counselors,
there is safety’”; and “The word is hope. Yes, that’s it: I feel hopeful.”

As I close my entry for the night, I reflect on those messages, culturally significant yet such profound and humanly
connected messages that profess a belief in our profession and its future. These individuals in their roles as healers found
growth, renewal, respect, faith, and hope in the counseling relationship. Because of the revelation and discovery in their
journeys, when I think about the future of people of color in counseling, I feel hopeful. Yes, that’s it; I feel hopeful.

In an effort to further bridge that gap in the literature on the experiences of people of color in mental health, this book was undertaken with multiple purposes in mind. First, the voices of the individuals in this book bring clarity to the existing multicultural theoretical and empirical research in regard to the encounters of people of color with mental health services. Next, it provides firsthand insight into the experiences of people of color with counseling services that best illuminate why most people of color tend to underutilize, prematurely discontinue, or report unsuccessful outcomes in counseling. Through the experiences, stories, and testimonials of the nine individuals in this book (the eight study participants, and a ninth participant who was in the follow-up study), some of the factors that contribute to or hinder clients of color using counseling services are discovered.

-19-

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