Culturally Competent Self-Assessment Cultural Syndromes Discussion

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Topic 8 DQ 1 (Obj. 8.2) DQ 1

How should a culturally competent counselor approach the processes of assessment and diagnosis when dealing with clients from minority populations? Support your answer with at least one scholarly reference and review cultural syndromes from the latest version of the DSM.

This discussion question is informed by the following CACREP Standard(s):

2.F.7.h. Reliability and validity in the use of assessments.


Jones-Smith, E. (2019). Culturally diverse counseling: Theory and practice. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc. ISBN-13: 9781483388267


Saul Arras1 posts

Re: Topic 8 DQ 1 (Obj. 8.2)

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), is often required to diagnose clients’ problems. It is necessary for counselors to access managed care and insurance reimbursements (Tomlinson-Clare & Georges, 2021). During the intake process, counselors should reflect on what is necessary to work with this particular client. This may require review and research on the clients’ cultural backgrounds or traditions that may impact their current struggles. The goal for any counselor is to have cultural competence and empathy when working through the therapeutic process while maintaining the course of healing in the therapeutic process.

DeSilva et al., share a flow of the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI) domains (2015). When working through cultural assessments there are 4 domains that have been identified:

  1. The cultural definition of the problem.
  2. The cultural perceptions of cause, context, and support (including identity)
  3. Cultural factors that affect self-coping and past help-seeking
  4. Cultural factors that affect current help-seeking

These domains are meant to help the counselor make person-centered cultural assessments to inform diagnosis and treatment planning (DeSilva et al., 2015). This information will allow the counselor to make informed and decisions on treatment and take into consideration how the client’s race, ethnicity, and culture affect the client. Working collaboratively with the client will help build a strong and trusting relationship.

Christy Johnson1 posts

Re: Topic 8 DQ 1 (Obj. 8.2)

When working with clients from minority populations a counselor should use a person-centered approach during the assessment and diagnosis process. The American Psychiatric Association’s (2013) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (5th ed.; DSM-5) suggests using the Cultural Formulation Interview (CFI), which takes into consideration the client’s cultural identity, how they comprehend hardship and communicate their distress to others, what their primary stressors are and who they turn to for support, differences between the counselor and client that may interfere with diagnosis, treatment, and communication, and a summary of the information found in the CFI along with any other information that would be relevant to the clients’ treatment plan (p. 750). DeSilva et al. (2015) denotes that the CFI elicits “the patients own narrative of the illness…inquires about the views of members of the patient’s social network, to better place him or her in the context of a community and help the patient and his or her entourage engage more fully in the treatment process” (para. 8). In a study examining the mental health of Indigenous Australians Haswell-Elkins et al. (2007) describes the importance of clinicians recognizing “the impact of disempowering history” (p. S30) and “ongoing suffering and injustices” (p. S30) and their affect on the client’s mental health during the assessment and diagnostic process.

Rachael Herbison

2 posts

Re: Topic 8 DQ 1 (Obj. 8.2)

First, the counselor must above all be sensitive and non-assuming, not only in the first couple of meetings, but throughout the rest of the sessions as well.

One cultural syndrome that is in the DSM-5 is “gender dysphoria,” which, according to da Silva Paes Henriques & Filipe dos Santos Leite (2019), is a result of the inability of Americans to see past the male/female sexual orientations. The counselor should keep this in mind during assessment and consequential diagnosis, remembering the correct language and appropriate behavior.

One way to help with assessment is to be involved with programs of outreach, like the Comprehensive Statewide Needs Assessment, or the CSNA, which is a program that connects with and supports minorities who are also disabled (Sink & Bua-Iam, 2012).

When assessing and diagnosing any minority, the counselor needs to learn more about how they identify, whether they identify with their culture, and what their particular people group has experienced over the years. With programs like the CSNA (Sink & Bua-Iam, 2012), the counselors can learn more about these individuals and gather better tools in which to engage their new and recurring clients. 

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