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Counseling Goals

Previous sections have described some ways in which clients' experiences of oppression, social identity and level of development, and worldviews may influence the formation and prioritization of counseling goals. Above all, counseling goals that are inconsistent with a diverse client's values, beliefs, and current environment are to be avoided (Helms & Cook, 1999). For example, a common counseling goal is autonomy or independence, which may not be an appropriate goal for a client who is deeply socialized in a collectivistic culture or a culture in which families are viewed as very central. To avoid this kind of mismatch, counselors should construct the goals of counseling with the client and should reflect the client's worldview and cultural orientation, as well as the client's current environment (Slattery, 2004).

In addition to the above cautions, various authors have discussed general counseling goals for diverse clients. Helms and Cook (1999) described symptom remission, social identity development, bicultural identity development, and cultural congruence as potentially appropriate counseling goals for many diverse clients. From a social justice perspective, an important goal of counseling is the removal of exterior barriers, such as discriminatory policies and practices, that impede client well-being (D'Andrea, 2000).

Empowerment is a commonly mentioned goal of both multicultural and social justice counseling (McWhirter, 1991; Slattery, 2004). According to McWhirter (1991), empowerment within the context of counseling is the process by which people, organizations, or groups who are powerless (a) become aware of the power dynamics at work in their life context, (b) develop the skills and capacity for gaining some reasonable control over their lives, (c) exercise this control without infringing upon the rights of others, and (d) support the empowerment of others in their community, (p. 224)

Empowerment may an especially appropriate goal for those whose self-determination is limited, who are members of stigmatized or oppressed social identity groups, and who are distressed by their own dependency and sense of powerlessness (McWhirter, 1991).

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