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Running head: SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Skill Development
LaNaarai D. Wilder
Georgia State University

Abstract

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

My Cultural Competency Action Plan consists of things I have done and can do to
continue my cultural competency journey. Through my identity analysis and biography, I have
the opportunity to begin fulfilling some of the standards in the NASW Standards for Cultural
Competency in Social Work Practice. There are only ten standards, however, much time and
exploration are needed in order to fulfill each one. My social work career will prepares me for
this. My Social Action Plan shows what I have learned about oppression and discrimination.
Oppression and discrimination comes in different forms with different faces. As a social work
practitioner, I plan to combat oppression and discrimination by being an ally for children,
women, and hopefully struggling male youth. My posttest reflection reveals that prior to
beginning the Fall 2015 semester I was not sure what to expect, however, as the semester
progressed I was surprised at how much I learned. My knowledge base and hunger to learn more
has grown. My posttest scores and levels show my quantitative improvement, while the
responses and reflection to the posttest show my qualitative improvement.

Cultural Competency Action Plan

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Standard 1. Ethics and Values: Social workers shall function in accordance with the values,
ethics, and standards of the profession, recognizing how personal and professional values may
conflict with or accommodate the needs of diverse clients.
The Dominate and Subordinate Group Analysis coupled with the Cultural Biography is a
good exercise that allows for a reflection of personal values and how they may or may not align
with professional values. Through reading from Readings for Diversity and Social Justice and
Culturally Competent Practice, the values, ethics, and standards of the profession are explained
with testimonial examples and reflections. When working with diverse clients later in my life I
have learned that I must not allow my own prejudice or preconceived notions affect our
interaction. I must assess their needs from a non-judgmental perspective that takes into account
the obstacles placed in their lives.
Standard 2. Self-Awareness: Social workers shall seek to develop an understanding of their own
personal, cultural values and beliefs as one way of appreciating the importance of multicultural
identities in the lives of people.
Through an identity analysis and cultural biography I have had the opportunity to explore
and understand my own personal cultural values and beliefs. I know that being self-aware allows
for me to recognize beliefs and values within myself that are different from my peers and future
clients. Self-awareness is fluid in that as a person is always growing and changing, selfawareness needs to grow and change as well. There are beliefs and values that may not change
depending on our life experiences. However, as I continue pursuing my education as a social
work major and begin working in the profession, certain positions on societal issues like poverty
or immigration or personal perspectives may change.
Standard 3. Cross-Cultural Knowledge: Social workers shall have and continue to develop
specialized knowledge and understanding about the history, traditions, values, family systems,
and artistic expressions of major client groups that they serve.
The group project students are required to complete during SW 3000 Cultural Diversity is
the one of the first experiences social workers gain in the pursuit to know and understand history,
traditions, values, family systems, and artistic expressions of client groups. Group 6s topic for
the project was Asian Americans. We learned about the history of Asians in the United States
from the beginning of know migration from Asia to the west coast of the early United States
through restrictive laws. Their traditions and values were discussed during our section on
contemporary facts. For example, Asian Americans value working with extended family
members, respecting the elders in their community, honoring the male gender more than the
female gender, putting family needs before oneself and making self-sacrifices, and behaving
appropriately in public as to not lose face. When I begin working with diverse clients or have the
opportunity to research more, then I will be able to expand my knowledge and understanding of
different client groups.
Standard 4. Cross-Cultural Skills: Social workers shall use appropriate methodological
approaches, skills, and techniques that reflect the workers understanding of the role of culture in
the helping process.
Human Behavior and the Social Environment I teaches about the different theories and
approaches social workers use when trying to help clients. The first half of the class during the

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

fall semester of a social work majors junior year is only about development from preconception
and birth to adolescents. We explore the different approaches and perspectives for clients at
different stages of development to provide clients with the best possible help. The class teaches
students that not one theory or approach is used; multiple theories are used with clients because
individuals are different with diverse life experiences that contribute to their current positionality.
Human Behavior and Cultural Diversity together help with understanding the role of culture
when helping a client.
Standard 5. Service Delivery: Social workers shall be knowledgeable about and skillful in the
use of services available in the community and broader society and be able to make appropriate
referrals for their diverse clients.
Social Welfare Institutions is a class that discusses the history or social welfare issues,
institutions, and advances. The class overviews the history of services like Medicare, Medicaid,
Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income. It is introductory to the services available in
the community and broader society. However Social Welfare Policy, a class which I have yet to
take, introduces the development and implementation of contemporary social welfare policies
and service programs in the United States. The course highlights the influence of social values
on policy development and the differential allocation of material and social resources. The
current provisions and service delivery systems emanating from contemporary social welfare
policies are examined, with special attention given to Americas most vulnerable population
groups.
Standard 6. Empowerment and Advocacy: Social workers shall be aware of the effect of social
policies and programs on diverse client populations, advocating for and with clients whenever
appropriate.
TEA Walk which stands for Together Empowering Asian Americans or Together
Empowering All is my most recent experience as an advocate. Later during my academic and
social work career, I will be able to be an advocate for social policies and programs I learn about
and work with. I will also be able to be an active and personal advocate for my clients.
Standard 7. Diverse Workforce: Social workers shall support and advocate for recruitment,
admissions and hiring, and retention efforts in social work programs and agencies that ensure
diversity within the profession.
I support equal opportunity in the work place and firmly believe that the social work
profession should not be dominated by one particular ethnic group, racial group, gender, or
sexual orientation. The more diverse the population, the more avenues and human resources
clients are provided with. At this point in my life, there has not be an active opportunity to
advocate for the recruitment, admissions, hiring, or retention of diverse individuals in any work
place because I have never been employed.
Standard 8. Professional Education: Social workers shall advocate for and participate in
educational and training programs that help advance cultural competence within the profession.
At this current point in my social work career, advocacy for training programs is not an
experience I have or had the opportunity to do. However, through my academic career at Georgia
State and the beginning of my program of study, I am actively participating in educational and
training programs to help advance cultural competence in the social work profession. I am

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

enrolled in two classes that increase and expand my cultural competence, Human Behavior and
the Social Environment and Cultural Diversity. During the 2016 Spring Semester,
Communication Skills and Human Behavior and the Social Environment II will help further
expand my cultural competence by teaching me how to effectively communicate with diverse
clients and by teaching me the theories and appropriate approaches used to help clients going
through the stages of development.
Standard 9. Language Diversity: Social workers shall seek to provide or advocate for the
provision of information, referrals, and services in the language appropriate to the client, which
may include use of interpreters.
Before finishing my sophomore year, I wanted to minor in Spanish to hopefully be able
to communicate with individuals who may have a hard time speaking English. Even though I no
longer want to minor in Spanish, I agree that there needs to be provisions of information is a
language the client can best understand. As social workers, we cannot provide our clients with
useful information if they do not understand the information presented to them.
Standard 10. Cross-Cultural Leadership: Social workers shall be able to communicate
information about diverse client groups to other professionals.
Because of my novelty and needed training, I am not yet able to communicate at the
capacity or level of someone who has earned their Bachelors of Social Work or Masters of
Social Work. I am not yet a professional, but as a student I do have the capacity to communicate
about the diverse client groups I learn about with my peers. Communication Skills, a class
offered in the Spring semester of 2016, will equip me with the skills I need to communicate
effectively with clients and professionals.
Social Action Plan
Oppression and discrimination comes in different forms with different faces. To some
cultures oppression and discrimination are masked as employment restrictions or limitations. To
others oppression and discrimination are masked as the unequal resources and policy
implementation in low income neighborhoods. These mechanisms are not limited to racial
oppression or discrimination as once thought. Gender, age, the functionality of the body, body
type, sexual orientation, religious belief, educational status, socioeconomic status, etc. are all
affected. Oppression is a type of discrimination that allows for the prevention of access to scarce
and valued resources. Lum described discrimination as a behavioral response that is unfavorable
to members of an ethnic, gender, sexual orientation, or related out-group (Lum, 2011, p.66-67).
Awareness and research are a good place to begin continued growth in the ability to
address and confront oppression of all vulnerable groups. If there is no information of the types
of or examples of oppression and how to identify them, then adequate prevention, intervention,
or any other kinds of change can exist. Therefore being aware of social issues that arise in the
United States and globally and also being well informed on these social issues is a start to
confronting oppression. Next, advocacy and aligning oneself with the fighters of social justice
confronts oppression.
As a social work practitioner, I plan to be an ally children, women, and hopefully
struggling male youth. Women and children in the welfare system have always been dear to my

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

heart. The foster care system and adoption process has always been of great interest to me.
However, a new interest of mine is the plight of young males in the United States who struggle to
support themselves, support their families, have time to get an education or training, and not
perpetuate negative stigma of low income males. As a social work practitioner, I plan to advance
human rights and social and economic justice by working on the micro level first. The plan is to
build a solid foundation within my workplace with my clients and their families. This foundation
gives me experience and supporters. Later on, if possible, I may begin to look into policy that
can help prevent social issues my clients face.
Post Reflection Experience
Introduction
Prior to beginning the Fall 2015 semester I was not sure what to expect. As the semester
progressed I was surprised at how much I learned.
Scores
The Social Work Cultural Competencies Self-Assessment Posttest and The Social Work Cultural
Competencies with Culturally Diverse Groups and Social and Economic Justice Posttest scores
are higher than my original pretest scores. During Communication and Cultural Diversity,
students learn how to be self-aware and its importance when working toward being culturally
competent within the social work profession. Both posttests measure the levels of improvement
in awareness and competence from the beginning of the Fall 2015 school semester. Therefore,
the questions and concepts from either posttest surprised me. The improvement of my scores and
levels makes me proud and speaks volumes towards the knowledge one could gain in thirteen
weeks. The Self-Assessment Pretest score was 72 at Level 2 and rose to 117 at Level 3. The
Cultural Competencies Pretest score was 167 at Level 2 and rose to 287 at Level 4. The
improvement of my scores is also empowering because it shows me that I have the capability to
be a good child social worker. I still need to work on my skill development because there are
aspects of cultural competency and self-awareness I have yet to experience like designing service
delivery and agency linkage programs, working with bilingual/bicultural social workers, and
participating in community outreach education and prevention.
I expected that I would fall in Level 2 on both pretests in the beginning of this semester. Scoring
in Level 2 satisfied me seeing as I had only taken two other courses related to multiculturalism
that did not centrally focus on personal growth. It still does bother me that I knew more about the
First Nations People and European American section, than the African American section.
However, the disconnect that did arise from this realization has diminished through the semester.
I used to feel unprepared, but now I feel steps closer to the social worker I would like to be. The
pretests exposed what I did not know and the posttest is a testament to all that I have learned.
Cultural Self-Awareness
Cultural self-awareness takes more preparation and effort than one might imagine. Being selfaware sounds simple. However, it takes time and thinking of yourself and your experiences in

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

different perspectives to learn things about yourself that you may not have realized. Cultural selfawareness has forced me to think about my own socialization in America and what it means to be
an African American woman born and raised in Georgia. Before, awareness was thinking about
how I was raised and relating my life experiences like where I went to school and the
neighborhood I lived in to social work practice. Now I realize that self-awareness is about
discovering the prejudices and personal beliefs a person has and how they will translate when
working with clients. Self-awareness is about realizing that to be culturally competent you have
to discover how your own culture and struggle contributes to who you are and will be, before
you are fully capable of helping a client or anyone else in their own lives.
Diverse Groups
My perception of Asian Americans has changed the most. During the semester, my group
project's subject was Asian Americans which allowed me more insight into this particular group
than the others discussed in class. I learned a few things I did not know when the African
American group and Latino group presented, but not as much as for the Asian American
community. Before the project I had my own stereotypes and perception of Asian Americans. I
thought they did not suffer through as much discrimination and oppression as other minority
groups, were closed off reserved individuals, and most of them were relatively the same.
Through research and interaction with individuals of the Asian American community I learned
that Asian Americans should not be confused as being the model minority because they still face
discrimination and oppression in the workplace and in the community. The Asian American
community is not as narrow as people imagine it to be. Moreover, one cannot assume that all
Asian Americans are the same because there are disparities in culture, religious practices, and
values within the whole community itself. I've learned not to judge the whole of this group based
off of their media portrayals as being the minority group that is the most "American" and closest
to the white majority in socioeconomic status.
Future
The information I have learned in Communication and Cultural Diversity is important to the
overall effectiveness of a social worker, whether they work within the school system, in a
hospital, in the private sector, or any other opportunity presented to them. Thinking critically
about identity development, knowledge theories, culturally diverse values, and themes like
discrimination, oppression, acculturation, and exploitation will help me connect and understand
culturally diverse clients. It will allow me to be an open minded advocate for groups and
individuals when trying to access and fulfill their unsatisfied needs and wants. Now that I
understand the importance of learning about yourself and being able discern and discover things
about other people, I would like to continue this trend so that I have a bigger knowledge with
which to help others.
Conclusion
Communication and Cultural Diversity is an important course to have taken during a person's
social work career. The class is eye opening and challenging because it forces you to dig deep
within yourself and exposed parts of yourself while also breaking down barriers through

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

exploration of the class' complementing texts and research. The posttests are examples of my
growth from the beginning of this semester until now. However, I intend to continue growing
even after obtaining my BSW and MSW.

References

SKILL DEVELOPMENT

Lum, D. (2011). Social Context. In Culturally Competent Practice: A Framework for


Understanding Diverse Groups and Justice Issues (4th ed., pp. 66-67). Belmont, CA:
Brooks/Cole--Cengage Learning.
Lum, D. (2011). Social Context. In Culturally Competent Practice: A Framework for
Understanding Diverse Groups and Justice Issues (4th ed., pp. 28-30). Belmont, CA:
Brooks/Cole--Cengage Learning.