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When thinking of the term multicultural, people often picture various aspects relating to race or ethnicity. However, multiculturalism includes many facets, to include characteristics relating to

· Religious affiliation

· Gender identity

· Relationship status

· Generational perspectives (for example, Gen X or Millennial viewpoints)

· Immigration status

· Age

· Ability

· Sexual orientation

· Social class

· Socio-economic status

· Educational background

· Geographic region

· Profession and professional status

· Spirituality

Sometimes, issues of multiculturalism arise in counseling. In fact, many believe every counseling session is cross-cultural; in other words, all counselor-client relationships possess multicultural differences even if the counselor and client share the same race and ethnicity.

Multicultural counseling, therefore, is a therapeutic relationship between client and counselor that recognizes and respects the impact of a client’s cultural identity on his or her mental health. For example, a person’s mental health may be affected by his or her low socio-economic status. If this person seeks counseling, a skilled multicultural counselor will likely acknowledge this dynamic.


Effective multicultural counseling respects how a person's culture affects his or her mental health.


Feeling uncomfortable about multicultural disparities in counseling is normal. Although some seeking therapy may never experience or even be aware of cultural differences with counselors, other clients may be acutely conscious of and/or challenged by such variations.

Oftentimes, however, the best way to address multicultural differences is directly.

For example, a client and counselor may come from different ethnicities and age brackets. This disparity may result in the client’s belief he or she is misunderstood by the counselor. In these types of situations, speaking candidly about differences and concerns may acknowledge and potentially resolve unspoken counseling impediments.

Between sixty-four and eighty percent of new years’ resolutions are abandoned after one month, and most are never achieved at all. However, a few mindset changes can transition resolutions from unsuccessful to successful.

Effective cliché #1: Aim for progress rather than perfection. Performance that demands flawlessness typically dies in the graveyard of unrealism. The world is imperfect and seems to be quickly growing more complicated. Therefore, goals must adjust. For example, if a new diet restricts food intake to 1,500 calories per day, and you eat 1,749 calories, count that as a win. More could have easily been eaten, and those who have inhaled a 5,000-calorie banana split in ten minutes know this too well.

Effective cliché #2: Many interventions are marathons rather than sprints. Rarely is a worthy goal accomplished quickly and easily. Most life-changing achievements require more patience than 21st-century humans are accustomed to giving. In terms of the time necessary to achieve goals, grace is needed.

True cliché #3: Shoot for moon, and even if you miss, you’ll land amongst the stars. This means those who work towards goals but ultimately do not attain them usually gain some semblance of the target. For example, Melinda sets a weight-loss goal of four pounds per week with a total weight loss of 20 pounds over five months. However, she loses an average of three, rather than her projected four, pounds per month, and ultimately she loses only fifteen, rather than twenty, pounds. Melinda may be disappointed she did not lose twenty pounds. However, she can be grateful she shed fifteen, as she is fifteen pounds lighter than she was five months prior.

Use SMART goals. Research suggests SMART goals are more likely than others to succeed. SMART is an acronym and stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. For example, Melinda sets a SMART goal of losing one pound per week for fifteen weeks to achieve a total weight-loss goal of fifteen pounds. This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-oriented.

Although many adjectives describe current times and situations, the most applicable descriptor of modern days is likely to be ‘uncertain.’ Certainty and control are often illusions, and as humans, we desire control even if it is only perceived. However, many cannot even perceive certainty for the next two – let alone five or ten – years. For those who enjoy planning and preparing their lives, this lack of control can cause a great deal of stress.

Consider the following principles when navigating what may be indecisive times ahead:

  • Problems sometimes work out and do not require outside intervention. In some ways, humans possess less control than is believed. Usually, worrying or catastrophizing is not necessary because unexpected solutions exist and take action at the correct time and place. Similar to thoughts in the human mind, some life circumstances resolve themselves like “mud in a pond settles and the water clears after the kids have ended their swim” (Cohen, 2004, chapter 5).

  • Time will exist in the future to deal with specific stressors. Additionally, more resources (ideas, knowledge, money, etc.) may also be present to deal with those problems. Worrying may be difficult to avoid, but it often contributes nothing.

  • Most are more resilient than they believe. Humans were created to survive. The spirit of mankind usually takes actions necessary to continue living, and it often triumphs even when it thinks it will not.

Although these principles are strong coping strategies, circumstances can often present themselves too overwhelming, and outside help may be necessary. In these cases, the national crisis hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or text chat line 741741.


Cohen, D. (2004). The one who is not busy: Connecting with work in a deeply satisfying way. Gibbs Smith.

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