A Genetic Counseling Cultural Competence Toolkit

Racism / Discrimination
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Racism, Stereotyping, Prejudice, Discrimination

In this section of the toolkit we include resources to learn more about topics that underscore the experiences of many of our clients. It’s important to know about historical and current events that were driven by racism and hate. Awareness of the experiences of others is important, but the only way to make meaningful changes is to actively interrupt patterns of using generalizations about people or “certain types of people.” A Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity developed by Milton J. Bennett, MD may be a useful tool to consider how you relate to difference.

If you believe that you do not demonstrate prejudice, racism, or stereotyping, it’s especially important to explore this section of the toolkit. The exercises may help you realize the human limitation that we all demonstrate biases toward other people. However, after we admit that, fundamentally, the more important question is how do we recognize our own biases? In clinical settings, we strive for open communication, mutuality of purpose, and respect. We listen carefully, use reflection, ask questions, and consider the intent and needs of all parties when assessing their words and actions. The process of genetic counseling should constantly involve self-reflection by the counselor. When negative feelings arise towards certain people or situations, that’s a red flag for asking ourselves, “why am I having these feelings? Are they justified? Am I seeing the other person’s perspective? Do I need to reframe?” Revisiting the genetic counseling literature on countertransference is a great way to consider how the topics in this section of the toolkit relate to our practice.

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