Cultural Competency

The Blues: Jannette, Dimples, Darlene, Parvati & NoniRafiki is committed to providing culturally competent services to the individuals and organizations that we serve.

Cultural competence means providing services in a manner that is acceptable to the service population and effective in meeting the negotiated goals of service delivery. For the provider, cultural competence includes a focus on awareness of one’s own cultural orientation, its affect on others as well as an awareness of the assumptions on which that cultural orientation is based. Each of us holds our perceptive world together with a group of ideas and assumptions that define, organize and prioritize our efforts. It is this assumptive world that must be challenged to provide the emotional space and energy needed for change, but only after a significant level of relationship has developed between trainer and trainers whereby the trainees feel safe and supported

Cultural Competence is promoted through the use of a process oriented interaction that utilizes a reflective attitude and reflective skills to understand, and address each consumer as a multicultural organism. The content oriented approach that is based on learning general information about cultural groups, while useful, is somewhat limited in that it presumes that cultures are static and humans are “uni-cultural” and sometimes leads to stereotyping. Culture is a continually evolving phenomenon. A person or organization’s culture may only be truly understood and addressed through the experience of and empathetic interaction with that person/organization.

Every program, agency and service provider has a culture and often several subcultures within it. The process of engaging organizations for capacity building and training is dependant on the consultant/trainer being able to join the existing agency culture before attempting to alter or change that culture by adding new or different knowledge, skills or competencies to their functioning. This joining process is predicated on the provider’s ability to communicate genuine appreciation for the trainee’s perspective and tailoring training and interventions to accommodate the context of the organizational culture. In other words the training/intervention must be as individually customized for the agency or program as we would want the program’s services to be for the client/service population. To actualize this ambition a trainers must listen deeply and empathetically to understand the trainee’s perspective on needs and frame their information within that context. This requires cognitive flexibility and a willingness to follow the consumer’s lead.

The culturally competent trainer has the ability: 1) to adapt their strategies and interventions to fit their consumers; 2) to generate a wide variety of verbal and nonverbal responses; and 3) to attend to the emotions of consumers thereby creating the emotional space for new learning. Therapeutic language skills such as reflecting, relabeling and reframing are used to change the way consumers think about problems and create the possibility of new solutions.