Multicultural Counseling ClassModule 1 Topic 2 • Lesson2
EPS690 Multicultural Counseling
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Module 1: Developing Multicultural awareness
Topic2-Lesson 2 Racial Identity Models

William Cross first explored the concept of a racial identity model with Black Americans under the title of "The Psychology of Nigrescence." Cross believed that the process of forming a racial identity was through a transformation of an existing identity (in this case, a non-Afrocentric identity) intro one that was more pro-Afrocentric.

He believed this process went in stages, from pre-encounter, when an individual accepted the dominant culture's views without question, through a period of dissonance, to an intermediary stage where all mores and values of the new culture were accepted and the dominant culture was disowned. Again, there was a period of dissonance, and the final result was a synergy of the best of both cultures. The model has since been applied to other racial and ethnic groups as well.

Why is this important to us? As counselors, it is not enough to know that a person appears White, or Native American, or Black. We must also determine how much that individual identifies with their biological culture. An individual who has Navajo parents, yet has been raised in Los Angeles with no access to the Reservation way of life is in a much different place, psychologically, than someone born in a hogan without electricity who has not spoken English before starting school.

In addition, a person who, through personal experience or family belief systems, distrusts the culture to which the counselor belongs, will bring a much different dynamic to the counseling session.

Helms, who you will meet through your online readings, also has developed a cultural identity map, similar to that of Cross. The important thing to remember is that all of these concepts are tools, to be used as appropriate for each individual situation. Be cautious about applying such a basic categorizing method to any individual before doing your own investigation!

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