At the start of my educational journey to become a counselor, I learned some of the most important concepts that would drive my personal business. Outside of many counseling theories that a counselor can use to practice and treat clients I learned about the importance of culture in a person's life.
Being an American and living in the melting pot of the world as it has been referred to, I personally did not identify with any cultures until much later in life. It was not until later that I put a lot of thought into what culture is and what means for each individual.
My biggest question was what is culture? A quick google definition states "the customs, arts, social institutions, and achievements of a particular nation, people, or other social groups (Google, 2022).
However, even that definition did not help me understand MY culture. What art, customs, social norms, etc did America have that other countries didn't?
To further understand the culture I took several classes including Cross-Cultural Communications, Social and Cultural Foundations, Multicultural Education, Multicultural Counseling, and People and Society. In my studies, I made it a point to understand the variety of influencing cultures in America and around the world to ensure that I would be able to work with a wide variety of populations. I wanted to ensure that I had an understanding of people for who they are and what they believe. I wanted to make sure each person felt safe to express themselves.
To my surprise, I was blindly taking advantage of many cultures that live here within America and not even knowing it. I was doing this through the food I ate, the music I listened to, the media I liked, and even the everyday tools I use. Without culture, many great everyday things would not exist.
Culture is a way of life. A way of expression. A way of understanding. A way of connecting. A way of belonging. An Identity.
The picture below is a great visual of some aspects of culture.
Having this in-depth understanding has helped me both as an individual and a counselor. I am able to appreciate my own cultures that I now identify with and appreciate others without the need to push my beliefs or values. I can work with clients understanding them in ways before studying that I would not be able to.
Every individual and every culture has a story. You just have to listen with an open heart and mind to see how beautiful each one is.
Elkan, M. (2021). The culture wheel [Picture]. Retrieved from https://letme4exploreg.blogspot.com/
Google. (2022). Dictionary: Culture. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+culture&rlz=1C1CHBF_enUS916US916&oq=what+is+culture&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j0i512l5j69i60l2.2048j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8