Starting with culture, ending with social change
To say that the world of counselling has changed over the last decade is an understatement. Of particular note is the major shift in the understanding of and approach to culture.
In the last decade, there has been a growing emphasis on social justice and on seeing culture in the context of people’s lives. At the same time, the siloed learning about different cultures and the practice of group-centred counselling is giving way to counselling that recognizes each individual as a unique cultural being.
Dr. Sandra Collins, a professor in the Athabasca University’s Master of Counselling program, has written a new book—Embracing Cultural Responsivity and Social Justice: Re-Shaping Professional Identity in Counselling Psychology—to help people deepen their knowledge about and navigate this evolving cultural landscape.
“AU is on the leading edge of counsellor education by making a conscious decision to infuse social justice and cultural responsivity throughout the Master of Counselling program,” she said.
“In the past, the tendency has been to look at problems as being ‘within’ the client, but there is more realization today that many stresses are environmental. This changes the focus of counsellors from helping someone to cope, to coming alongside someone to facilitate change in the broader environment in which they live.”
Case-study based, interactive and interlinked, Collins’ e-book functions much like a self-contained website. Theory chapters centre on 16 core competencies, and people can drill down to see how the principles and concepts play out in practice. A free, open-source teaching and learning guide forms a companion resource, providing additional self-study and group learning activities and discussion questions.
Collins hopes to inspire students, counsellors and instructors alike to “think outside the book.”
“It’s challenging to move self-reflection out of our heads and into our hearts,” she said. “I’m hoping the book and guide have a real emotional impact on students and counsellors—and that they are able to offer safer, more-effective therapy for clients.”
Collins’ book is available from Counselling Concepts.