Working with diverse populations

Working with diverse population groups. 

Welcome to your E-Learning module

Learning outcomes

•The significance of culture and ethnicity

 •Exploring counsellors’ values and attitudes towards diverse populations

 •Issues impacting  ATSI communities, CALD communities, LGBTIQ communities, and people living with disability •Considerations for counselling diverse populations

What is Culture?

•A learned, evolving system of shared symbols and meanings, People are born into their culture oThen recreate and create the cultural 

•A map enabling members of a society (to interpret each other’s behaviours and motives o to communicate and interact)

What is Ethnicity?

An ethnic Group

People who identify with each other based on common traits

Ethnic traits

race, religion, mythology, ritual, cuisine, language, dress, life-style, physical appearance

Ethno-linguistic groups

 Speak their original ethnic language and maintain their cultural identit

Cultural Values in Psychology

“The discipline of psychology is a product of the European and North American cultural environment and most psychological theories and practices have been developed in Western countries. Consequently, the way psychologists understand human behavior is bound and limited by these cultural contexts” (Western, 2006).

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People content

Indigenous nations are separate national and language groups.

•Torres Strait Island Peoples

 •Murray Island Peoples

 •Mer Island Peoples

Murri    QLD, NW NSW

Nyoongah   WA

Koori    NSW

Goori  N Coast NSW

Koorie   VIC

Yolngu  Arnhem Land

Anangu  Central Australia

Palawa  Tasmania

Nunga  SA (not always   appropriate term)

Ngarrindjeri  SA – River Murray, Lakes,   Coorong people

Cultural and Linguistic Diversity (CALD)

Diversity in Australia

•Mass immigration followed World War II  

 •2013 – 2014 approx. 212,700 people migrated to Australia

 •By 2050 almost 1/3 of Australian population will have been born overseas (ABS prediction)

 •2000 to 2010: 58% of immigrants were from oAsia, North Africa and the Middle East 

Assimilation integration and multiculturalism

Discuss your understanding of these government policies

•The white Australia policy




Migration and Mental Health

Stress factors involved in migration increase the risk of experiencing mental illness

The immigration experience “confronts you with   existential anxiety, which looms large, when narrowly   constructed life meaning no longer functions as a buffer   against death terror”.

(Han – Chinese student, 1998)

Culture and Suicide Risk

Individualist, low power distance countries show higher suicide rates than collectivist, high power distance countries.

Chinese women (young, rural) and Indian and Sri Lankan women   have relatively high suicide rates.

  Women in China may experience 

 •Being less valued than boys (esp. with 1 child policy)

 •Arranged marriages

 •Living with the husband’s family; control of mother in law

 •Being denigrated if she does not produce a son

 •Little warmth or interpersonal support

LGBTIQ history of discrimination

A study for Latrobe University (2010) indicated that for LGBTIQ



There were strong links between homophobic abuse and


 •feeling unsafe

 •excessive drug use


 •suicide attempts

Counselling Considerations with LGBTIQ clients

Compassion not pity 

Take care of your own ‘triggers’ 

Use the client’s self identification language 

Build an accepting, safe rapport to encourage clients to come-out to you 

Don’t pathologise sexual identity. The client may have made contact regarding other issues.

Living with Disability content

Types of Disabilities

Physical    - mobility or dexterity

Intellectual   -organise information and learning  

Psychiatric    -thinking and emotional processes

Sensory   -see, hear, speak

Neurological   -loss of bodily or mental functions

Intellectual Disability


•Attention and memory

 •Speech and communication

 •Sequencing within a narrative

 •Concrete and abstract thinking

 •Masking and acquiescence

 •Confabulation, ‘exotic’ story telling

Disability – Considerations for Counsellors

What is the disability? 

 What is the client’s attitude to their disability?

Normalise and validate their experience. 

Focus on what they can do rather than what they wish they could do. 

Conduct a risk assessment. 

Use grounding techniques when necessary. 

Does the client need the National Relay Service?

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