Being a competent counselor is very challenging and requires a lot of knowledge. Being a diversity-competent counselor takes so much more. When working with a chemical dependency group there is a high probability that the group will have to deal with different cultural backgrounds. A diversity-competent counselor will be able to let go of fear and lead a discussion that is culturally sensitive.
Diversity-competent counselors don’t become competent overnight. It takes years of experience and awareness to obtain the competency. Counselors who are courageous, good role models, and very open minded will have a great chance of really understanding diversity. Before they experience other cultures however, they must be able to understand their own culture first.
When working with chemical dependency groups a counselor should always be noticeably present and very genuine. People in recovery are very sensitive to their surroundings so it is important for the counselor to be able to believe in the group process by not being defensive when criticized and identify with the group and the pain they are going through. This means every single member of the group which includes all cultures and races. By identifying with the members of the group a diversity-competent counselor can help cultural awareness within the group by inviting guided conversations that help bring awareness to ethnic differences. When members of the group hear their peers talk about racial diversity they will be less likely to assume or label each other.
Leading groups can be extremely challenging and it takes time to be successful at it. Competent counselors have personal power and stamina to make it through tough times and they never give up. Diversity-competent counselors who lead groups are very self aware and bring dedication and commitment to the table even during the hard-hitting sessions. Most importantly, they are able to recognize their own limitations.