Monday, October 19, 2015

Cultural Humility vs. Cultural Competence

I'm prepping for a macro social work lecture and came across a movement away from "cultural competence" in cross-cultural practice to a practice of "cultural humility."

In short, cultural competence can be described as...
  • Interrelated actions, thoughts, and even policies that are joined within a system or organization to facilitate effective cross cultural work.
  • NASW recognizes it as both a process and product that includes self-awareness and respect for diversity and effective practice behaviors.
  • A process of growth that includes practitioner and agency awareness, knowledge and skills.
In turn, cultural humility is presented as...
  • Increasing knowledge and skills accompanied by ongoing self-evaluative processes and relationship building
  • Does not suggest one can master everything about culture
  • Suggests an on-going process that includes:
    • continual commitment to learning and self-reflection, to altering the power imbalances in the interactions between helping professionals and service consumers, and to developing collaborative and equitable relationships with community members.
The change from cultural competence to cultural humility is being sparked by questions like...
  1. Is the goal in cross-cultural practice learning from clients or knowing about clients?
  2. Aren't descriptions of difference by definition stereotypical and potentially overlook the uniqueness of each individual?
  3. Doesn't the ethical value of self-determination risk being undermined by a focus on the group?
  4. Can competence ever be achieved? (due to the lack of clarity of definition and the numerous unique combinations that comprise individual identities)
From Social Work Macro Practice by Netting, Kettner, McMurtry & Thomas

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