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Techniques That Social Work Researchers Could Employ to Conduct Culturally-Sensitive Research and Awareness When Working With Minority Populations

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At a time when minority voices are being silenced and obscured around the world, we felt that is was particularly timely for social work education to reexamine itself and engage in discourse which bridges the divide between theoretical knowledge and practice with discrete populations. A minority group is a group of people with common characteristics or interests which distinguishes them from the more numerous majority of the population who live in close proximity or which they are part of. Minority groups (real or perceived) have always existed and have historically been the focus of social work interventions across the world.

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In the words of Thompson we live in a complex society where diversity is the order of the day. This indeed can result into conflict of interest and discrimination. To narrow this down, discrimination borne out of Cultural Diversity in the social care practice is a very pertinent issue in care delivery especially between the service giver and the client alike. This can be explained as the reflection of the differences that comes through their, languages, values, beliefs, thoughts, behavioural action, ideas and reaction. Basically, is a pointer to the sensitivity nature of the profession and the approaches needed to provide culturally appropriate care that will accommodate and embrace individual’s beliefs, values and culture incorporates individual’s cultural values, beliefs, and practices including sensitive and of course practitioners among others must take cognisance of individual background to facilitate antidiscriminatory practice in service delivery. When implementing prevention programs to curb any form of discriminatory attitude ,some of the cogent factors that should be considered as sub set of cultural diversity are, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, sexuality, spirituality, and some other areas. Both the internal and external parts of human life can be considered as the understanding of culture. Among diverse of lots of ways to define culture, it can be viewed from the angle of experience, values, knowledge, attitudes, skills, ideas, tastes, and techniques which are transfer from one experienced person in the community to others. Transmitters of culture are now families both immediate and nuclear, religious group, peer groups social groups, neighbours and professional organisations. Essentially it should be noted that element of culture and diversity are numerous, some cultural experiences could be are biological related factors, like physical stature and colour of skin, whereas others could be sociological related factors, like socioeconomic status and religious connection. Based on these variables it will be wrong and illogical to draw a conclusion regarding people based on the way they appear externally. It has become imperative for social care practitioners to be very competent cultural, apart from the fact that this could improve the service delivery standard it will help immensely to help in the quest for antidiscriminatory practice in this profession. Some of the importance of this antidiscriminatory practice in this regards is that it will help to facilitate a serene atmosphere whereby social workers will be able to see it as a matter of responsibility to engage in proper conduct, effective ethical services and decision making

This will enable them to be more conscious about the value base of their service users and of course it will help to maintain an ethical standard that could ultimately serve as a platform on which a professional relationship that can facilitate and improve service delivery can be attained in the long run.

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Community commitment is one of the ways of developing the three types of empowerment amongst the minority group. By fostering the diversity culture among the community will encourage growth of people both academically, individually and socially. This will work hand in hand with provision of a health and beneficial environment

All the people comprising of the minority group need to get the knowledge and skills about diversified working environment. To assist the clients who are the minority diversified information teaching will be put in place (Cooper, 2008). During the process of hiring employees at various levels, the culture of intentional hiring and admissions should be exercised. This will help maintain a community that reflects diversified vision as long as non-discriminatory policies are adhered to. Development of cross cultural skill is also a way of empowering the minority group. This is where cross cultural awareness and relational skills is cultivated amongst the minority group. It is done through civil education and communicative ethics. With this people will have the ability to understand, negotiate and appreciate the differences and similarities in social structures (Cooper, 2008). Establishment of Educative conflict resolution centers will also contribute to minority empowerment. This will support the inter-personal relational growth and improve the perception and understanding of pertinent issues. If adhered to ethical behaviors accepted socially will be upheld. Promotion of social responsibility towards the wider community in order to discover ways in which the minority group is excluded from the society. This strategy will ensure that the minority group expands its boundaries socially, build relationships, cultivate empathy and hence offer their services at large (Cooper, 2008).

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In the long run, membership of an ethnic minority group may influence the diagnosis and treatment process in how people experience depression, present to services and possibly how they proceed with psychological treatments. If we are to diagnose and treat depression through a Euro centric lens, we should be embracing the use of models which allow for cultural diversity in the diagnosis and treatment of depression. However, as I hope I have demonstrated in my writing, no two people in a therapeutic setting will ever be exactly the same. So how useful is it to continually focus on ethnic differences when they are just one drop in the ocean of diversity? Perhaps instead we need a shift in the dominant discourses surrounding ethnic differences in mental health? The real challenge I think we face is understanding how the identity of the individual contributes to the diagnosis and treatment of depression.

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Cooper, M. (2008). Essential Research Findings in Counseling and Psychotherapy: The Facts are Friendly. London: SAGE Publications.

Dewey, J. (1988). Addressing cultural complexities in practical. New York: Gateway, Press.

Kurtz, L. (1997). Help characteristics and change mechanisms in self-help and support groups. New York: ISBN Press.

UNESCO. ( 2001). Universal declaration on cultural diversity. Geneva: UNESCO Press.

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