“One of the most satisfying experiences I know is just fully to appreciate an individual in the same way that I appreciate a sunset. When I look at a sun set …I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a little on the right hand corner, and put a bit more purple along the base, and use a little more pink in the cloud colour. …” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch it with awe as it unfolds. “Carl Rogers
Carl Rogers focussed on counselling that sought to use what Sociologist Max Weber refers to as “Explanatory Understanding”. The counsellor seeks to understand the child or client from their own perspective, by placing themselves in their shoes and focusing on what the individual is revealing. Rogers refers to this as “private phenomenological perspective”(Rogers, 1977). The counsellor employs all available means to understand the child’s subjective experiences and understandings (McLeod, 2008).
In a multicultural context, Roger’s methodology becomes applicable as counsellors who use this are able to consciously remove all previous prejudices that may cloud their judgment and affect their ability to counsel effectively.The opening quotation from Rogers points out an important factor: the need to actively listen and appreciate the perspective and experience of the client (child) and creating or facilitating change according to each specific need and personality.
Counselling with a culturally centric approach:
I recently read a publication on teaching from a culturally centric perspective. It advocates an ideology that teachers need to be culturally informed and aware as each student has a set of ideologies informed by their socio-cultural experiences and that these significantly influence their evaluation of the formal educational exchanges.
Similarly, in order for counsellors to be effective, it is imperative that sessions and intervention activities be largely influenced by the varied social experiences of those who they are attempting to counsel. This is important since the norms and values that one has is often grounded in the socio-cultural practices of our community.
Since we are operating in a global, multicultural world, our approaches must be culturally centred. This allows for genuineness or ‘congruence’. Children and most people in general, are always able to tell when someone is being sincere and understand their point of view on a particular experience. We are only able to truly empathize when we are open to appreciate and accept another point of view.
In order to be effective, this requires a constructivist approach to counselling. It would be one where the client to led to find their own solutions under the careful guidance of the counsellor. With this approach, the client (student) is better able to understand and appreciate the problem and the resulting solution that was garnered. Whenever the client creates a solution to an issue, though it was an assisted process, way more is achieved and the effect long term as she/he was central to its composition. There is a certain pride, a level of self-actualization that is derived from the process. It allows the participants to feel a level of accomplishment for having contributed to finding a solution to a personal problem.