Multicultural Counseling Conceptualization: Latin Americans
Latin Americans refer to people living in America who have their ancestry from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and other Latin American countries. Not all people accept the term Latin Americans. Certain groups refer to the individuals Latinos or even La Raza the race in which the group belongs. The official name used by the U.S. government to refer to Latin Americans is Hispanics. The physical appearance of Latin Americans differs greatly from the North American Indians, Asians, Blacks or fair skinned Americans who are of European origin (Marbley, 2011).
The family tradition is critical in the life of Latin Americans. Therefore, family unity (familismo) is regarded as important as respect and loyalty to the family. Latin Americans stress the importance of cooperation instead of competition within the family. They build and maintain interpersonal relationships based on a large network of family and friends. The development and maintenance of family relationships is critical in the life of any Latin American. Latin Americans have deep respect and affection for their families and friends. Therefore, most young Latin Americans are more likely to endorse values such as loyalty to the family, religiosity, and strictness to child upbringing than white Americans. Households of Hispanics are usually larger than those of non-Hispanics. More than 25% of Latin Americans live with more than four family members. Families are usually hierarchical with special respect and authority accorded to the elderly, males, and parents. The father is the authority figure in the family (Marbley, 2011).
Various factors affect the perception of Hispanics. The social status of Hispanics determines their perceptions. Engineers, doctors, lawyers or other similar professionals have a better perception than poor Hispanics. The environment also affects the perceptions of Hispanics. A white American standing next to a Hispanic in a crime scene is likely to feel threatened by the Hispanic. A significant number of Americans regard Hispanics as ignorant and cruel. Other people also regard them as lazy. Discrimination makes Hispanics harbor feelings of self-rejection, anger, and insecurity. This could make them have a negative self-concept and low self-esteem. Low self-esteem could make them overestimate discrimination (Marbley, 2011).
Religion plays a critical role in the daily life of Hispanics. More than 90% of Spanish speaking countries are Roman Catholics. As such, a significant number of Latin Americans are Catholics. Religion influences their interactions in family life and in the community. Religion also gives meaning to their culture. Each community of Latin Americans places more importance in the celebration of the patron of the community saint’s day even more than birthdays. Latin Americans also place great importance in various Christian celebration and holidays.
Hispanics have various educational barriers in the U.S. Most Hispanic students begin their education without economic and social resources that available to other students. This makes them have a disadvantage compared to other students. Low socioeconomic status and immigrant status of the parents makes parents lack adequate knowledge of the U.S. educational system. Most Hispanic students progress through the education system while having poor relations with their teachers. This inhibits their ability to learn. Immigrant Hispanics also have to work in jobs that pay minimum wage since they do not have professional qualifications. Lack of professional qualifications limits their opportunities in the U.S. and abroad. Lack of knowledge of English also limits their opportunities (Marbley, 2011).
The Aspira Consent Decree (1973) is one of the major events among the Latin Americans. This decree led to the implementation of the Bilingual Education Act. The Granting of Puerto Ricans with U.S. citizenship in 1917 is one of the major historical events among Hispanics. Che Guevara is one of the most popular figures among Hispanics. Guevara sought to liberate Latin Americans from capitalistic exploitation by the U.S.
Differences in Inter-Group Characteristics
The social status of Latin Americans does not affect their beliefs and values. Latin Americans who have a high socioeconomic status also have respect and loyalty to the family. They usually try to maintain close relations with family members who have a low socioeconomic status. They would strive to provide them with opportunities that would helps in improving their economic status. The struggles they had to endure to be successful makes them be sympathetic other family members and members of the community (Atkinson, Morten & Sue, 1998).
Latin Americans born and raised in the U.S. are more likely to have feelings of being discriminated against than immigrant Latin Americans. This is due to the fact that they can easily integrate with other Americans since they know English as opposed to immigrants who in most instances know Spanish and very little English (Sue, Arredondo & McDavis, 1992).
All Latin Americans regardless of their social status or immigration status are usually spiritual. Being brought up in close-knit families that value religion makes them religious in their adulthood. They pass on these values to their children. Deviating from the values of the community makes them be regarded as being big-headed or Americanized. This is despite the fact that most Latin Americans would not like to be Americanized as this would make them lose touch with their roots (Sue, Arredondo & McDavis, 1992).
Social status also makes Latin American have different societal perceptions. It makes them by sympathetic to the hurdles that Latin Americans have to endure to be successful in the U.S. Therefore, they are likely to engage in various community initiatives that strive to improve the welfare of Hispanics.
Education, social status, and immigrant status determines the opportunities available to Latin Americans in the U.S. and internationally. College or post-graduate education enables Latin Americans to have access to high paying jobs. It also provides them with opportunities in other countries that lack their expertise. High social status provides Latin Americans with limitless opportunities both in the U.S. and internationally. Latin Americans born and brought up in the U.S. also have more opportunities in the U.S. and internationally than immigrant Latin Americans (Sue, Arredondo & McDavis, 1992).
Culturally Sensitive Theories & Techniques
A counselor may use three counseling approached when counseling Latin American clients. These include the psychodynamic approach, client-centered approach, and behavioral approach. When using the psychodynamic approach the counselor should strive to understand various areas of the Latin American’s mind. These include, the conscious, subconscious, and unconscious. The conscious refers to the things that the Latin American client is aware of. They include emotions such as anger, grief, and happiness. The subconscious area of the mind refers to things that the Latin American Client’s mind is not aware of but are easily accessible. These include past events or upbringing, which the client may remember easily. Lastly, the unconscious area of the mind refers to memories that the client has suppressed and are usually difficult to access (Pedersen, 1991).
Using the client-centered approach would enable the counselor acknowledge the uniqueness of the Latin American client. The client-centered approach is based on the perception that all individuals have an inherent capacity grow both emotionally and psychologically to enable them have self-fulfillment and self-actualization. The behavioral approach is based on the assumption that the environment helps in shaping the behavior of an individual. Using the behavioral approach would necessitate the counselor to understand the environment that the Latin American client was brought up and the one the client currently lives in (Pedersen, 1991).
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