Our world is becoming more and more diverse, made up of people who sit outside the majority. These identities include race, ethnicity, religion, gender identification, income, disability, and any other social factor that puts one outside the majority, such as childlessness.
The multicultural counselor is one who looks at racism, oppression, and marginalization as factors that people are impacted by as they seek to understand themselves and their experiences throughout their lives. The multicultural therapist is culturally aware and seeks to understand her clients through this lens and bring these ideas into the therapeutic room as factors impacting the client.
My Approach to Multicultural Counseling
As a woman who identifies as biracial — half East Indian and half Caucasian — it has been helpful to work with a person-of-color therapist so my felt experience of not being seen as a person of color is held, contained, and empathized with on a continual basis no matter what I am facing in my life. As a multiculturally attuned counselor, my therapist provides space for both parts of my racial identity to be seen, respected, and honored. Her receiving and experiencing me in this way helps me to extend this compassion to myself.
It is out of my own experience of not being seen in American society as a person of color given my skin tone allows me to be judged as “white passing” and not being seen in India as an Indian who belongs, but rather being judged in that society as a “white woman who married an Indian man,” that I am able to be competent in how I relate to others who are minorities.
If you sit outside the majority in any way, I am a multicultural counselor who extends curiosity about you, seeks to understand your experience, offers empathy toward how you are feeling, validates you and your life, and thinks through how racism and oppression may be causing you distress in your life. As one who walks this line every day in my own life, I also recognize that each person’s experience is unique and cannot be summed up in the whole of a minority identity. Therapeutically, I am curious to know you.
Common Feelings Regarding Racial Identity
People of color, including biracial and multiracial people, in America are considered minorities and sit outside the majority white race. One of the most common feelings felt by people of color is being an outsider. This feeling of being an outsider can be experienced in a myriad of different ways from micro-aggressions encountered on a daily basis to not being offered opportunities to being blamed on a societal level for the problems the majority faces, i.e. a lack of jobs for the majority as employment opportunities are going to minorities.
Further, given those in the majority have never experienced life as a minority, it is very difficult for people in the majority to empathize with their experiences. Their thoughts may be sincere, but it often falls flat as there is no relevant felt sense of knowing that aligns with those in the minority. This can often lead to a feeling of not being understood, except by people who are like them.
Finally, a feeling of belonging in the greater society is often carved out for minorities, i.e. they only belong to their particular minority group in the society. As a result, they are considered to only belong to a subset group of people rather than the whole. This can lead to feelings of oppression. As minority people seek to belong to the majority, this desire is often met with rejection in both simple and complex ways.
How Multicultural Therapy Can Help
If you are a person who identifies with a minority identity, multicultural counseling may be instrumental in healing these feelings of being an outsider and not belonging to the greater society and your community. Also, multicultural counseling provides a safe space to have your experiences be understood and framed in a way that allows you to make meaning on how these experiences have shaped your life, particularly the challenges from living in society with a minority identity.
If you’re interested in scheduling time, please reach out directly. I look forward to hearing from you!