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Cultural Countertransference, Disabilities, Collective Trauma

1. Explain the concept of cultural countertransference. Discuss why this concept is important as a human service provider.

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Cultural countertransference is one of the most important concepts in counseling and human service, particularly in cross-cultural settings. Lesser and Pope (2011) describe cultural countertransference as “complex and interacting practice beliefs, emotionally driven biases about ethnic groups and feelings about their own ethnic self identity” (p. 433). Thus, it is customarily for counselors to project the biases and subjective opinions they hold about certain ethnic groups on the process of solving cross-cultural dilemmas. The concept of cultural countertransference plays a crucial role in human service due to several reasons. First, it greatly impacts the quality of human assistance provided by the counselor. Lesser and Pope (2011) suggest that in cross-cultural counseling, personal biases may easily trigger the provision of either surplus or deficient quality care if counselors pay excessive or insufficient attention to the role of race in solving the client’s problem. Second, cultural countertransference can become a defensive barrier for the human service provider if it interferes in the therapeutic relationship between the counselor and the client (Stampley & Slagt, 2004). Such negative experiences are likely to be re-traumatic for the client. Therefore, the counselor must be aware of the risks posed by cultural countertransference and possible ways to minimize its negative influences on the quality of care.

2. Discuss some of the differences regarding the experience of disabilities by ethnic minorities versus the majority. Research and discuss what resources are available in your area for ethnic minorities with disabilities. Explain the services that are provided by these agencies; are they lacking in any ways?

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One of the greatest problems facing present-day counselors and human service providers is the persistent need to address disabilities experienced by the social and cultural majority. The disability rights movement is being shaped with regard to the values promoted by white, middle-class societies (Lesser & Pope, 2011). However, since incapacity experiences are greatly influenced by culture, representatives of ethnic minorities experience disabilities differently from their white counterparts, who tackle the same kind of problem. Disabilities and the client’s ethnic minority status create a double challenge for the counselor. Therefore, members of ethnic minorities who are disabled are doubly disadvantaged, namely beyond the complexities of a disability, they also experience cultural pressures, daily discrimination as well as the lack of culturally sensitive and culturally competent care (O’Hata, 2003). Unfortunately, the community does not offer any special services for ethnic minorities with a disability. Overall, such services are not simply lacking but are entirely absent, making ethnic minority representatives extremely vulnerable to the social challenges they might face due to their unique social status and the absence of quality social support.

3. Discuss an event in which society experienced a collective trauma. Try to identify an example different from your peers. What are some ways that the community has been recovered from this failure? How has the field of sociology/human service helped in the recovery process?

In a world full of technological complexities and natural disaster risks, a collective trauma is a widely spread phenomenon. Such traumas involve a large number of people and leave a deep scar on the history of the entire nations. The current year has been marked with numerous events that are likely to persist as a collective trauma for decades or centuries. The missing flight MH370 with hundreds of passengers who are yet to be found, followed by the subsequent crash of the MH17 airplane in Ukraine represent two different examples of a collective trauma. Some people even tend to compare the scope of collective mourning and suffering following the two plane crashes with the horror of 9/11.

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Undoubtedly, both traumas are still too fresh to speak about community recovery. The international community still has memories of the major disasters that took place in the 20th century, including the events of the Second World War. However, on the one hand, the missing flight MH370 is likely to cause continuous suffering with few chances of effective resolution and recovery. On the other hand, the crash of MH17 is an example of the political collective trauma that has political consequences and, despite its severity and complexity, can be alleviated and resolved (Kellermann, 2007). The field of sociology has the potential to facilitate the process of recovery. Thus, it can provide family members of the passengers of the missing and crashed airplanes with adequate psychological support, explore the phenomenon of collective trauma, and use the experience to develop new models of human service.

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