As a social worker, you might not realize how often cultural competence comes into play in your work. Understanding everything from a family dynamic to communication expectations helps you understand your client’s world. Pursuing social work continuing education online is one way to develop cultural sensitivity, eliminating cultural bias that might otherwise close your eyes to the realities of your client’s world.
Why Do Social Workers Need Cultural Competency?
Social workers are required to develop cultural awareness. A common mistake social workers make is that they assume all their client’s cultural issues are the same or are similar to their own. Unconscious racism and the illusion of color blindness can negatively impact your ability to connect with and understand your clients.
Mental Health Issues in Social Work
For many clients, talking to a social worker about pursuing any mental health assistance comes with a sense of uncertainty and anxiety, often linked to cultural baggage. In fact, some cultures are connected to feelings of caution regarding seeking any mental health services. For example, people who are African-American may experience difficulty obtaining services due to environmental, financial, and social barriers. Ignoring this fact could make you less effective as a social worker.
Self-Awareness Issues in Social Work
One of the critical components you learn through your social work continuing education online will be the concept of self-awareness. While most people like to think that they do not have bias or prejudice, acknowledging potential biases and privileges through cultural humility is much more helpful.
Cross-Cultural Knowledge in Social Work
Some cultures are deemed much more collectivist rather than individualist, and some cultures put more emphasis on expressiveness rather than reservation in cultural communication. Do you know where you stand on these scales? Do you know how to appeal to a client who is used to low contact communication rather than high contact expression? Part of your education will include learning how to examine customs, families, and communities for a better understanding of cultural norms.
Family Structure in Social Work
In addition to being able to understand cultural communication issues, you must also be able to understand family structures and how they may differ across cultures. Would you know which issues to address in practice if you were working with a patriarchally structured family rather than an egalitarian one? These structures intersect with individual experiences.
How to Achieve Cultural Competence as a Social Worker
One of the best ways to become more culturally competent and aware of related issues is to work hard to understand common concerns about social work. You can start by taking the PDH course in cultural competence as part of your social work continuing education online.
With more understanding and compassion, you can help establish a sense of trust with your clients. Take a look at our Social Work Courses to see if they are right for you. Our range of courses is designed to help you become successful in your industry.