Culture encompasses virtually everything about human society: our languages, values, and world views; our lifestyles, food and art; our customs and traditions. Cultural sensitivity involves developing an understanding, conscious inclusion, and celebration of the differences we encounter in people, including their race and ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, physical ability, mental and neurological differences.
Acknowledging that our culture is not superior to others and educating ourselves about ways of life that may be different from our own is part of the practice of cultural humility. It includes avoiding cultural stereotypes, assumptions, and prejudices; challenging our own cultural biases and blind spots; getting out of our comfort zones and engaging with others outside our cultural bubbles, thereby learning something new about others and how we all fit into the world.
Cultures are complex. We can belong to and identify with many different cultural categories. People who belong to minority or subculture groups may not easily find acceptance in the dominant culture. They may experience prejudice, misconceptions, discrimination, or outright attack. Cultural safety is about creating safe spaces and communities where people from cultural minorities can feel safe and develop a sense of connection and belonging. It involves being an ally to those who have been marginalized and “othered” by society.
Karuna Counseling has been involved in cultural inclusion for almost 50 years, and provides a safe space where culturally diverse people can feel seen. Our history of social activism involves not only doing our own personal work as therapists, but also confronting prejudice and discrimination, and engaging collectively with people and organizations who are committed to social justice. At Karuna, we stand for cultural understanding, cultural diversity, and a celebration of cultural differences.