A book that offers progressive ideas on how to incorporate cultural awareness into a truly effective grief counseling program.
The authors start by asserting that grief counseling, as passed down from generation to generation, has always been informed by its understanding of different cultures. Different societies have different grief processes, and knowing the roles of family, relationships and emotional growth in various cultures is key to becoming a more effective counselor. To do so, however, a counselor must have a certain fearlessness, the authors explain. He or she must be willing to get things wrong in order to effectively listen and learn from a different culture. Understanding the ways that loss impacts different kinds of communities is vital; to that end, the authors weave “tapestries” of cultures together to explore their norms and traditions. They offer not only ideas about communicating better through art and individual expression; they also posit concrete strategies for breaking down cultural barriers to facilitate listening and healing. Ideas include poetry prompts, sharing food, acting out theatrical scenarios, making collages, stretching, doing yoga and dancing. According to the authors, all these activities help bring a group back to a natural state of creativity, which allows openness. The book is full of creative ideas and intriguing approaches, but it might have benefited from stronger organization and fuller chapters. Many segments offer just a brief introduction and a list of supplies, activities or prompts. Yet other chapters, such as “Special Populations,” are full of specific information about particular demographics and cultural groups. These chapters might be useful to someone already engaged in counseling with youth and adolescents. Overall, this book offers counselors plenty of ideas and encouragement.
An often engaging read for readers interested in cultural aspects of teaching and counseling.