Understanding Cultural Competence

Cultural CompetenceCultural competence is the act of understanding one’s own world view as well as those of others. Different people come from different cultural, social and economic backgrounds. It’s important to avoid stereotyping individual and this can be done through cultural awareness. This can only be possible if we understand each other and accept our cultural diversities and the unique characteristics that each of us possess. In addition, we need to be flexible in our beliefs and practices in order to understand other people’s culture (Siegel, et. al 2014).

If we don’t acknowledge culture then we limit our ability to interact. Domestic violence can be experienced by anyone regardless of their background. The individuals may experience the violence in culturally different ways (Siegel, et. al 2014). In order to understand victims of domestic violence one needs to understand the social norms of the victims involved, how the said community view violence, is it a community or personal matter. Another practice is to understand where the members of the community go to seek help when faced with issues such as domestic violence, if they seek the help from the authority, elders or counsellors. Another cultural competence practice is to get to understand the victim’s language and to be able to reflect on their culture and view their world as they do. Another question in mind is how does the topic of domestic violence resonate with the members of that culture? This will allow one to understand and view the victim’s situation in their perspective.

Cultural competence starts with self awareness of our own cultural beliefs. Self-awareness means looking critically into our values, biases, lifestyle and assumptions (Morris, et al 2010). For example our views about domestic violence are contributed by our cultural beliefs and attitudes. Being aware is the first step towards cultural competence. Learning other people’s culture is another way to achieve cultural competence. Individual appreciate personal interest in their culture. One can learn about other people’s culture through reading journals, interacting with those people, reading memoirs and book (Morris, et al 2010). s. Another way to learn the other culture is to learn the language; it will make interaction and understanding easy. Lastly interacting with diverse groups in the community, interacting with people from other cultures makes one to appreciate the details of the culture. One will get to interact with them at the cultural events, religious functions, and social functions (Morris, et al 2010); hence one is able to achieve cultural competence through these interventions.

One of the barriers is poor communication between individuals of different culture and background, communication is important for interaction. Without communication individuals will not be able to learn other people’s culture. Another barrier is lack of diversity in the workforce and leadership; hence there is little recognition of other cultures, which goes unnoticeable.


Morris, J. A., Day, S., & Schoenwald, S. K. (2010). Turning knowledge into practice: A manual for human service administrators and practitioners about understanding and implementing evidenced‐based practices (2nd ed.)

Siegel, C., Haugland, G., Reid-Rose, L., & Hopper, K. (2014). Components of cultural competence in three mental health programs.

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