Cultural Considerations and Cultural Issues

Cultural Considerations and Cultural Issues

Cultural Considerations when Working with Immigrants and Refugees


There are several cultural considerations that counselors should pay attention to when working with immigrants both undocumented and documented. First counselors need to consider the cultures of their immigrant clients (Jones-Smith, 2018). Sometimes a counselor may not recognize they are forgetting other cultures, and they may mistake cultural factors for engagement. Ultimately the therapist must respect the choice of the immigrant client and act in the client’s best interest. That means understanding the culture and respect for the individual choices of a client. While counselors do consider culture as important, they have to avoid stereotyping as best they can. Counselors should not assume that because an immigrant is Jewish, Black, Chinese, Hmong, Polish, Navajo, or Catholic that they would all fit neatly into one background or another. It is also better to allow the client to have a safe space to work with their issues (Day-Vines et al., 2018). Because immigrants are human beings, their thoughts on different subjects might be different. What social workers should understand about their clients is that they may get louder when excited about something. Having this slice of knowledge about immigrant culture helps counselors understand what affects each client individually. Counselors should also consider the effects of discrimination on immigrants and be ready to discuss openly with them.


As a profession and discipline, counseling has a wealth of knowledge, talent, and experience to help people who have fled their countries due to different reasons and are seeking safety. There are several cultural considerations that counselors need to understand while working with refugees. First counselors need to consider refugees’ culture and language (Schlechter et al., 2021). They should be able to respect the refugees’ culture and use professional interpreters if they do not understand their language. Another consideration is their current and past contexts including their experiences of racism, homelessness, poverty, war, hate crimes, and hostility. Counselors should also keep the professional boundaries between them and their clients and make sure they have regular supervision to avoid vicarious traumatization and reflect on their work. When assessing children refugees, counselors should make sure they interview them separately since they may fear their parents. Counselors need to not only assess the needs of refugee families but also their abilities and strengths (Jones-Smith, 2018). They also need to help them secure, reliable, sound, and appropriate legal representations to avoid challenges. Counselors should not view refugees as a homogenous group, but they should offer them specialist support needed in terms of their sexuality, race, and gender.

Cultural Issues and Trends

The Hmong in California

The Hmong Americans mostly reside in Merced, California. They originated from the mountains in Laos where they used to live in small villages. The Hmong were isolated until the early 1960s when they participated in fighting their North Vietnamese allies and the communist Pathet Lao after being secretly recruited by the U.S CIA (DeSantiago, 2020). After the U.S withdrew from the war, the Hmong fled annihilation and persecution from the communist regime and decided to settle in California, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. Approximately 70,000 Hmong live in California and they have made significant accomplishments in terms of business, education, and political participation. However, compared to the other ethnic minority groups the Hmong are lagging in many economic and social indicators such as per capita income, educational attainment, and median household income.  Hmong have been culturally distinct from the other cultures in the United States. They have a strong emphasis on communal responsibilities and relations, believe in family closeness, and have a sturdy pro-natal culture that permits every aspect of community life and family (DeSantiago, 2020). The Hmong are also committed to preserving their cultural norms, values, and traditions and are deeply connected to nature. Their participation in activities like fishing and hunting is disproportionately high.

Cuban Americans in Florida

Current demographics of Cuban Americans in Florida are most likely derived from the 1959 and subsequent migrations of people coming from Cuba for political or economic reasons. Thousands of Cubans settled in Florida, and then their children became Cuban American. But before that, Florida was already a heavily Hispanic-influenced state, having been a Spanish colony that was traded to England after the English occupation of Havana to get back the sizable chunk of Cuba lost on that action (Moreno & Warren, 2018). The early Puerto Rican history is somewhat related to Cuban independence in many ways that also include Florida. After 1959 a lot of middle-class and higher-income professionals emigrate from Cuba. A more or less steady flow of people has continued emigrating to the US from Cuba since then. In Florida, Cuban Americans have established their communities and maintained their cultures. Despite being a minority group, Cubans quickly became involved in the American popular culture after settling in Florida. Their musicians embraced the growing Salsa momentum and the Latin Jazz. Most of the established significant footholds in the U.S entertainment and music industries. Cuban business also grew as Cuban American politicians gained new constituencies in the county. They quickly established a political voice and embraced the right of voting in the American elections.

Hispanic Americans in the Southwest

Hispanic Americans in the Southwest have been a significant part of the United States culture for hundreds of years. Even though the Spanish colonization’s legacy is evident in South West of America, New Spain incorporated about 60% of the land that contemporarily constitutes the Continental United States (Gutiérrez, 2020). The influence of Hispanic Americans is cultural, geographical, and institutional. For instance, the names of the seven states in the U.S are from the Spanish language. Since the 1900s Hispanic Americans in the Southwest have been engaging in mining, large-scale commercial agriculture, and railroads constructions to make a living. The nature of employment carried profound outcomes on their lives. Most of them worked as migratory railroad construction workers and farm laborers as well as lived in isolated mining towns. Even in urban areas, they were in segregated neighborhoods but they were able to maintain a high degree of continuity. In their segregated communities, they maintained their fluency in Spanish and distinctive cultural, social, and family customs. They created an internal economy of grocery stores, restaurants, barbershops, funeral homes, and tailor shops for their community members.

Kurdish Americans in Tennessee

Compared to other states in the United States, Tennessee has the largest population of Kurdish Americans with a population of approximately 15000. Most Kurdish Americans living in Tennessee originally came from Kurdistan in Northern Iraq. Predominantly, they are Muslim even though they are also Yazidis, Christians, and Jews. Kurdish Americans arrived in Nashville Tennessee in three waves (Thangaraj, 2019). The first and the second were to escape the 1970s Kurdish- Iraqi wars. The third wave fled their homes after Saddam Hussein attacked their villages and destroyed their homes. Currently, the Kurdish are migrating to Tennessee due to the Syrian civil war against the Islamic state. The Kurdish Americans continue to maintain their cultural norms and practices. They choose to practice Islam as women choose to wear hijabs. Nashville provides them with some sense of community and a place to feel unremarkable and safe. American market imports products from abroad so that Kurdish Americans can have their home dishes. Kurdish Americans have also opened businesses ranging from Kurdish shops to bakery shops and jewelry stores (Thangaraj, 2019). Generally, the Kurdish Americans have upheld their responsibilities as productive members of society and are working hard to build the nation. Among many Kurdish Americans are Nurse, lawyers, doctors, engineers, entrepreneurs, and teachers.

















Day-Vines, N. L., Ammah, B. B., Steen, S., & Arnold, K. M. (2018). Getting comfortable with discomfort: Preparing counselor trainees to broach racial, ethnic, and cultural factors with clients during counseling. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling40(2), 89-104.

DeSantiago, D. V. (2020). Changes, Conflict, and Culture: The Status of Social-Cultural, Environmental, and Legal Challenges for Hmong Cultural Practices in Contemporary California. Hmong Studies Journal22(1), 1-41.

Gutiérrez, R. A. (2020).  Hispanic identities in the southwestern united states. In Race and Classification (pp. 174-193). California: Stanford University Press.

Jones-Smith, E. (2018). Culturally diverse counseling: Theory and practice. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications.

Moreno, D., & Warren, C. (2018). The conservative enclave revisited: Cuban Americans in Florida. In Ethnic Ironies (First Edition), (pp. 169-184). London: Routledge.

Schlechter, P., Hellmann, J. H., Wingbermühle, P., & Morina, N. (2021). Which psychological characteristics influence therapists’ readiness to work with refugees?. Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy28(2), 334-344.

Thangaraj, S. (2019). Kurdish Diasporic Matters: Signaling New Epistemologies of Difference. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies6(2), 1-10. DOI:10.29333/eject/240


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