Career Counseling for Special Populations Chapters 9-12

Chapter 9: Career Counseling for Multicultural Groups

What is Culture? Culture is a dynamic system of rules, explicit and implicit, established by groups in order to ensure their survival, involving attitudes, values, beliefs, norms and behaviors that are shared by a group. Culture is a learned behavior. There are examples of many meanings of culture. Researchers are in the early stages of studies to determine appropriate intervention strategies and assessment instruments for specific ethic groups.

By the mid 21st Century the US will be a true multicultural society in which half of Americans will be from four ethnic groups.

Cultural Differences in Work-Related Activities

  • Culture variability of worldviews includes constructs of individualism and collectivism. Examples of other differences in cultures are time orientation, view of human nature, and personal space and privacy. Worldviews should be considered unique for each individual.
  • Culture does have an important role in work-related values. Differences between cultures help us understand employee attitudes, values, behaviors, and interpersonal dynamics.
  • Effective counselors are sensitive to different cultural orientations when establishing rapport in counseling relationships. Counselors must be aware of different worldviews to be effective with populations of different cultures.
  • Counselors must develop a greater sensitivity to culturally diverse clients when conducting an interview. Technique issues include eye contact, touch, probing questions, space and distance, verbal style, restrictive emotions, confrontation, self-disclosure, and focus on self-in-relation and self-in-context (Zunker, 2016).

Five Major Cultural Groups

  • African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Whites
  • The largest racial minority group in this country is Hispanics. The Hispanic family is a closely knit group that greatly influences the value system of its members.
  • African Americans continue to make progress in social equality. Some of both sexes have achieved upward mobility to professional occupations as the overall success of African Americans’ upward movement increases.
  • Many Asian Americans place a high value on education. Asian Americans tend to inhibit emotional expression and do not actively participate in counseling programs.
  • Native Americans are culturally conditioned to view life from a different perspective than that of the dominant White culture. Native Americans are generally not motivated to achieve status through the accumulation of wealth. The lifestyle of most Native Americans is extremely democratic, and their culture promotes egalitarianism.
  • The White dominant population is made up of people from a variety of nationalities. Their lifestyle, especially European Americans, is influenced by an individualistic orientation (Zunker, 2016).

Some Mental Health Issues of Cultural Groups

Mental health issues of cultural groups that involved anxiety disorders, depression, personality disorders, somatoform disorders, and schizophrenia were found to have symptoms that are universal as well as culture-specific symptoms (Zunker, 2016).

Chapter 10: Gender Issues and Dual Careers

Women continue to reassess their career priorities and are looking beyond the traditional feminine working roles. Even though women are being given greater opportunities to expand their career choices, barriers to the changing role of women in the working world still exist (Zunker, 2016).

Gender Issues

According to the research, the issues that concern women the most are:

  • Work-life balance
  • Equal Pay
  • Harrassment
  • Career Opportunities
  • Children and Career (Reuters, 2015)

Work-life Balance: As more women have returned to the workforce, the issues associated with dual-earner and dual-career families have resurfaced. Men have changed by assuming a larger share of the homemaker role however this sharing of responsibilities has caused role confliicts among other problems. Issues facing dual-career couples are expectations of work and family, role conflict, child care, geographic moves, competition, and relational factors.

Equal Pay: White men (non-Hispanics) received significantly higher pay than female Whites. The same was true for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. The differences between African men and women and between Hispanic men and women, however, was not as large as the differences between White men and women. (Andersen & Taylor, 2013)

Harassment: Sexual harassment remains a serious problem in the workplace. Nearly one third of women interviewed admit to having experienced harassment, although more than 60% do not report it. As a result of inappropriate interactions between men and women, sexual harassment is being addressed in many organizations.

Career Opportunities: The division of labor by gender is attributed to the Industrial Revolution. Men became the primary breadwinner and women, caregivers. In World War II, women took over jobs that traditionally were reserved for men. After the war they were sent home to continue as primary caregivers. The second wave of the women’s movement paved the way for women to return to the workforce in large numbers. Currently, women have made great progress, but gender stereotyping has remained a deterrent for many (Zunker, 2016).

Children and Career: Because more than half of the mothers in the United States work outside the home, child care has been an increasing concern. Some organizations have developed family-oriented work policies that are designed to help dual-career families with child care responsibilities. Most are designed to help parents by offering flexible work policies.

Chapter 11: Career Counseling for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Clients

LGBT persons have special needs because of their sexual orientation that should be addressed in career counseling. Many regard gay men and lesbian women as another diverse group in the workplace.

Most Countries and States Do Not Provide Legal Protections for LGBT Employees: There is no federal law protecting the rights of LGBT employees in the United States. There is no state-level protection for sexual orientation in 29 of the 50 US states. This means employees can be fired for being LGB. There is no state-level gender identity protection in 33 of the 50 US states. Employees can be fired for being transgender (Catalyst, 2015).

Stereotypes in the Workplace: Individuals with a sexual orientation of LGBT continue to be stereotyped as to the kinds of jobs they should hold; are threatened by violence often resulting from homophobia; form a dislike for themselves through internalized homophobia; and generally receive negative feedback from a society that views heterosexuality as the only viable lifestyle (Zunker, 2016).

Fear Keeps LGBT Employees Closeted at Work: Discrimination in the workplace can involve threats, lack of promotions, black-mail, ostracism, sexual harassment, exclusion or avoidance, termination, and the “lavender ceiling.” Ethnic-minority gay men have a double-minority status. A lesbian ethnic minority may have a triple-minority status. Ethnic minorities suggest that they are only marginally received in LGBT communities.

  • More than half of LGBT workers hide their sexual orientation in their workplace.
  • More than one-third of LGBT employees lie about their personal lives at work.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 LGBT employees left a job because the environment was unwelcoming (Catalyst, 2015)

Transgender People Face More Employment Challenges Than LGB Colleagues: The transgender population faces double the normal rate of unemployment. Nearly half of the transgender population said they were not hired, were fired, or were not promoted due to their gender identity.

90% of the transgender population experienced harassment or mistreatment on the job, or took steps to avoid it.

Chapter 12: Career Counseling for Individuals with Disabilities

Americans with Disabilities Act

Passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has focused more attention on career counseling programs designed especially to meet the needs of individuals with disabilities. The ADA is a comprehensive document that covers several subjects significant to the rights of individuals with disabilities, including fair employment practices and access to public accommodations and transportation.

Need for Understanding Disabilities

Several problems and needs of persons with disabilities include difficulty with adjusting to and accepting physical disabilities, attitudinal barriers, being labeled as “disabled,” a lack of role models, onset of the disability, social interpersonal skills, self-concept, skill for independent living, and architectural barriers. Educational programs that develop a better understanding of the special problems are needed by employers and families alike.

Students with Disabilities

The Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) of 1994 requires public schools to provide interventions and special programs for children with “developmental delay.” Students with disabilities are provided with tutors, interpreters, transportation, speech pathology, occupational and physical therapy, and medical and counseling services, among others.

Opportunities for Individuals with Disabilities

Privately supported rehabilitation agencies provide educational programs, work information, and counseling programs. More specifically, the services offered are psychological testing, vocational evaluation, personal social adjustment counseling, work adjustment counseling, prevocational training, special academic instruction, skills training, job placement, and sheltered workshops (Zunker, 2016).


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