Cultural Humility: A Mindset

Cultural Humility

Healthcare professionals have, over the years, wrestled with determining the best way to become culturally competent. Knowledge is important, but Tervalon and Murray-Garcia (1998) suggest that achieving cultural humility is equally important.

The authors note that the standard of competence in clinical training as detached mastery of a finite body of knowledge may not be the best concept in the area of culture. Cultural humility is proposed as the best stance for learning about other cultures. Cultural humility includes lifelong learning, including evaluating and critiquing your own behavior. Power imbalances in the therapeutic relationship must be assessed and addressed to develop a non-paternalistic, mutually beneficial relationship that includes advocacy for both individuals and groups.

The National Association of Social Workers (2015) includes humility in its cultural standards. Social workers are expected to “demonstrate cultural humility and sensitivity to the dynamics of power and privilege in all areas of social work” (pg 4).

Cultural humility is defined as learning about a person’s culture and then communicating, offering help and sharing decision making, when working with people at the micro, mezzo and macro level. It is an “other-oriented” mindset that focuses on how the person’s social experiences affect their behavior.

The healthcare professional listens and learns, rather than taking an authoritarian stance. The person being served is, after all, the expert in the way their culture affects their lives. Empowerment flows from the validation of the person in their culture.

This is a lifelong process. Researchers have described the process as a constant state of “being-in-becoming.” A lifelong commitment to learning and becoming more and more competent in multicultural and social justice is required, as well as the willingness to apply cultural humility to your practice.

Course excerpt from:

Cultural Awareness in Clinical PracticeCultural Awareness in Clinical Practice is a 3-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides the foundation for achieving cultural competence and diversity in healthcare settings.

Cultural competence, responding to diversity and inclusion, are important practices for healthcare professionals. This course will help you to gain an awareness of bias and provide strategies to adjust your clinical mindset and therapeutic approach to adapt to “the other” – people who differ in color, creed, sexual identification, socio-economic status, or other differences that make inclusion difficult.

Inclusion is defined as “the state of being included” or “the act of including,” which is something all clinicians should strive for. This course is designed to provoke thought about culture, diversity, and inclusion. Even though research for evidence-based practice is somewhat limited in this area, the concept of cultural competency (however it is defined and measured) is a key skill for healthcare professionals to create an inclusive therapeutic environment. Course #31-07 | 2018 | 57 pages | 20 posttest questions

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