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Running Head: SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Skill Development: My Journey to Becoming Culturally Competent


Taesha M. Wilcox
Georgia State University

Running Head: SKILL DEVELOPMENT

This semester has provided insight into the world of Social Work education, as well as
opening up personal identities that is hidden in the dark, because of the fear to feel different. But
the openness and willingness for the students to discuss topics that hit home with so many people
bring great pleasure to a student that was once afraid. A student chooses Social Work to help the
cause; there are no other incentives but to give back. Therefore being culturally competent is the
only way a Social Worker can effectively do his or her job. There has to be a need to implicate
new traditions and laws as well as being able to interpret and understand the ones that came
before. Starting off as a first semester BSW student, one has to learn to step outside of their
personal bubble and poke a hole in another to understand how it works. But to do that the student
must learn the different societal barriers that may stand in place, and be willing to break these
obstacles for a better cause. Multicultural competence has recognized the importance of
incorporating social justice as part of the concerns when working with culturally and diverse
clients (Lum, 2011 pg 21). With that being said; Social Injustice will always exist, but as long as
there are culturally competent Social Workers dedicated to fighting the cause, then there will
always be someone fighting the good fight.
Cultural Competence Action Plan
The NASW (2001) issued the standards for cultural competence in Social Work
practices. Ten standards provide guidelines, goals, and objectives of cultural competence (Lum,
2011 pg 28). Of those standards, Social Work student must be able to identify with each standard
in some manner. For instance, Standard 1- Ethics and Values; during this semester there have
been challenges in trying to understand how to separate ones beliefs from the beliefs of others.
Social Workers personal and professional values may conflict in order to accommodate the needs
of the client (Lum, 2012 pg 28). In order to properly serve the client Social Workers must
understand their values, and have a sense of righteousness. So that they can become an advocate
for making the right choice even if they conflict with your values. The concept of competence
implies a striving toward mastery of a particular ability or area of expertise (Lum, 2011 pg 18).
There is a lot more to learn as a Social Work student, but this class has provided some of the
tools necessary for understanding your ethics and values.
Standard 2- Self Awareness; this standard has given great insight on how your cultural
background can play so many different roles in the way an individual views themselves
personally and professionally. Take, for instance, the cultural biography or the dominant and
subordinate papers written this semester. Both those paper provided a glimpse of how and why
students are in this place of life right now. In order to understand someone else culture, you must
first understand your own. Sometimes it may be difficult to look back and try to deal with the
things you wanted to hide, but it is necessary for this field. Social work education emphasizes
students' understanding and accepting diversity of clients; self-awareness is critical here.
However, complications can also occur when there are similarities between the client and the
student, such as cultural backgrounds (Urdang, 2010). For me as I looked back in my life I
started to realize how improvised I was a child, and how the communities I grew up in affected
the way I acted towards other cultures. As a future Social Worker, my plan is always to try to be
honest with myself about who I am so I can help others do the same.

Running Head: SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Standard 3- Cross-Cultural Knowledge, It is important to acknowledge the role culture


may play in an individuals life (Lum, 2012 pg 28). Therefore going to different cultural events
and gaining knowledge as I did this semester with my cultural immersions have helped with this
standard. If we never venture out if our environment, then how efficient can we become to our
future clients? As a child, it may be hard to learn different cultures as I seen when I reflected on
my biography but as adults we must try to get out in the community and gave insight. This class
has given me a chance to exhibit this standard in other ways a well. Take for instance, the group
projects on different cultures; that has provided great knowledge, and I believed it helped me
with gaining cross-cultural knowledge. My plan in the future is always to be willing to learn
something new about a culture from books, interviews, work, professionals, etc.
Standard 4- Cross-Cultural Skills, There has not been an in-depth accomplishment of this
standard. There has not been a direct incident in where one would have to provide these skills to
a client. In the future my goal is to learn in-depth information about this standard, so that I will
be able to understand which techniques work for each client, and how to provide them with
useful resources.
Learning psychodynamic theories such as ecological theory, cognitivebehavioral approaches, or the strengths perspective can enable students to
navigate a whirlpool of complex client personalities, affects, defenses,
relationships, and behaviors. It can help students objectify what is happening, and
why it is going on, and come to understand why their earnestness may not be
enough to stop the chaos (Urdang, 2010, pg 531).
Social Workers are there to solve a problem, and they must incorporate some of the skills above
to actually help clients of varying backgrounds. I plan to use my connections from my future
class and internships so that when I venture into my career I can be confident that I have the
skills necessary to get the job done. Standard 5- Service Delivery; the hopes of being able to
usefully practice this standard is there, because I have not been able to accomplish it yet. To
complete this standard, I would like to get out into the community and learn about the different
agencies and organizations available. Also, I would like to use my co-workers in the field to help
guide me in the right directions.
Standard 6- Empowerment and Advocacy; Social Workers should feel the need to install this
standard within themselves from the beginning. The purpose of cultural competence is to
empower the client and advocate for the client through cultural and related resources (Lum, 2011
p 21). I believe I have exhibited some form of this standard with my group project on women,
because I seen how there is a need to help this community and advocate for a change. In the
future, there is still a want to do more within the commonwealth and try always to be driven to
fight for the people I serve. Standard 7- Diverse Workforce, there has not been an
accomplishment of this standard in the Social Work field. I am trying to advocate a more
diversity of the managerial positions in my current career. Continuing with my future career as a
Social Worker, I plan always to uphold this standard and attempt to be a voice for the field.
Standard 8- Professional Education, this course and the ones to follow could provide evidence as
to how my vocational education standard is shown. Now and throughout my internship I will be
given the opportunity to gain the knowledge necessary to enter the field Social Work. In the
future as I become a practitioner in this field; the goal is to stay on top of the training classes

Running Head: SKILL DEVELOPMENT

offered and be aware of the laws that may affect my clients. If I cannot interpret what is going on
then, I am no help to my clients. Also, there will be ongoing communication with myself and my
employer about understanding what it I may need to learn to serve the clients better.
Standard 9- Language Diversity; Growing up in a community surround by people of the same
race and language background, it became easy to get stuck with just knowing English. There has
not been an accomplishment of this standard, but in the future as I began to practice; my goal
will be to understand that all my clients will not speak English. To the ones whom may not, I
will provide them with the adequate and professional help needed. I would like for the clients to
feel safe when around me. Therefore, if there is a language barrier I would like to take action
before hand and get interpreters whom would exhibit professional standards to help ease my
client into feeling comfortable. Standard 10- Cross Cultural Leadership; during this course there
has been a demonstration of this standard. Especially during the group project is when I was able
to get a sense of providing information about diverse groups to my peers of future professional
Social Workers.
Social Action Plan
The mechanism of oppression that may occur while working with diverse clients could
stem from one system keeping the clients from achieving social, economic, political, and related
human rights through institutional practices and social stratification (Lum, 2011pg 67). The
mechanisms of discrimination would be that my clients are treated differently because of the
group they belong to. My goal going forward is always to try and reinforce the NASW standards
and work more so towards empowering the individuals in need and helping them get out of their
current situations. Using the tools learnt from my cultural immersions and the presentations
given by my classmates will be essential in helping me throughout my Social Worker academic
and professional career. The pretest showed me how much more there was to learn and
throughout the semester I made that effort to become knowledgeable. I want to provide
opportunities so that these individuals can move on into better living conditions and break that
branch that is reaching out to me. I want to do these things by always staying in touch with the
community and understanding the methods that would best help my clients. The groups I want to
work mostly for are adolescents in protective service. I know the feeling of being always scripted
from your family. I have suffered through the challenges faced in these situations. So I feel as
though I can provide more help to those individuals because there is a driven force inside of me
to help.

Running Head: SKILL DEVELOPMENT

References
Lum, D. (2011). Culturally Competent Practice: A framework for understanding diverse groups
and justice issues. (4th Ed) Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole. ISBN: 978-08400-3443-4.
Urdang, E. (2010). Boundary Problems and Self-reflection. In Awareness of Self- A Critical
tool (5th ed., Vol. 29, pp. 523-538). Social Work Education.
DOI: 10.1080/02615470903164950