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Coming
from a mixed cultural background of both Eurasian and Malay, gives me the extra
edge as it provides me with exposure to more than just one race. This gives me
the extra knowledge and understanding on different races, which can in turn
enhance my counseling process. However, this does not mean I am knowledgeable
of all kinds of race and cultures. Evidently, according to Hogg and Abrams
(2001), the less contact we have with a particular racial group, the more
likely we are to have negative feelings about them. This could be applied to
me, as apart from my own race, I am hardly exposed to many other cultures and
races. This has the potential to cause misunderstandings, thus limiting a
multicultural counseling relationship. For instance, if I meet a Chinese or
Indian client, I may not understand their cultural background and may result to
stereotyping. Stereotyping is harmful, because it ignores the full humanity and
uniqueness of all people. When our perceptions of other races are distorted and
stereotypical, it is demeaning and hurtful to others, which can create a
tension in the client-counselor relationship. This is when the counselor’s
skills come into play. It is important to note that is it impossible for a
counsellor to have knowledge of all cultures, but what is more important is to
know the right questions to ask, and to be open-minded and willing to talk
about cultural issues. (McLeod, 2006). Another distinctive skill for
multicultural counsellors is being able to draw on therapeutic techniques and
ideas from other cultures, in order to carter to the needs of a client (McLeod,
2006).

Gender roles

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As
Chaplin (1996) posits, social gender expectations tend to be a largely mental
constructs that are deeply ingrained from a very young age. I grew up with a
very strong gender expectation. Watching my father be a working man while my
mother is a housewife who serves and cooks for my family everyday, it has
deeply ingrained in me what are the social expected roles of a man and woman. Growing
up with two sisters and no brothers has also instilled girl-centric ways of
living. For instance, I would always play Barbie dolls with my sisters, watch ‘girly’
movies or learn how to behave like a girl. I did not have the privilege to grow
up with a built-in understanding of how the opposite sex operates, which could have
provided me an invaluable primer for not only connecting with the opposite sex,
but to adopt habits outside of the typical female spectrum. Hence, this might
hinder the multicultural counseling process as I have certain expectations of
what a female or male is supposed to act, which is not always the case. In counselling,
counselors help people to question the social constructions of gender that they
have learnt (Chaplin, 1996) which can be challenging for me if gender
expectations have already been strongly ingrained in me from young. I need to
be aware that not all communities have the same understanding of gender roles. This
is when knowledge is essential, as counselors should require a good knowledge
base and awareness of gender differences and roles for effective, non-sexist therapeutic
practice (Gilbert & Scher, 1999). Therefore, I need to engaged in
self-examination and supervision in order to avoid ‘doing gender’ following
traditional gender ideas or interpretations in the counselling process. 

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