What is culture, and why is it important for a social worker to be culturally competent? Think of culture as specific characteristics, customs, and ideals that govern a group. This is different from individual uniqueness (such as personality) and universal experiences shared by all people (such as events like birth and death or emotions like happiness and sadness). To be culturally competent, social workers strive to understand these distinctions because conflating them may result in cultural insensitivity. For example, attributing aspects of an individual’s personality to an entire group inaccurately stereotypes a cultural group. On the other hand, assuming all people should express emotions like grief in a universal manner pathologizes groups who hold different values and customs toward death.
In this Discussion, you further define culture. Applying the concepts from the resources to explain culturally competent practice, you discuss potential impacts of lack of cultural awareness. Finally, you apply these concepts through the lens of working with older adults and Asian Americans.
Assignment: your response to the following:
Explain what it means to be a culturally competent social worker
Describe the potential impact if a social worker is not aware of culture when working with a specific population