This chapter presents a type of culturally open pastoral counseling that requires a transformation of self and society beyond an educated mind and a politically sensitive vocabulary. It discusses the current state of multicultural competence and social justice discourses. The chapter offers a few guiding principles intended to foster a more culturally open approach to cross-cultural training for pastoral counselors and other helping professionals. Training cultural competence in pastoral counseling and related fields focuses on meeting the ethical guidelines established by professional organizations. Training and discussions of social justice in pastoral counseling and related fields are aimed at drawing attention to the injustices inflicted on marginalized populations and motivating privileged populations to address and eradicate the resulting disparities. The primary focus of cross-cultural training for pastoral counselors is awareness, knowledge, and self-reflection. Developing cultural competence requires heightened awareness of personal cognitive dissonance when confronted with conflicting beliefs.
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This chapter provides an overview of traditional Native American spiritualities and life ways as systems of faith, then discusses the role and influence of Christianity, and, finally, offers implications for pastoral counseling with Native people from a culturally based perspective. In terms of faith and belief, Christianity has had the greatest influence on Native Americans. Essentially, cultural competence is critical in pastoral counseling with ethnic and spiritually marginalized groups such as Native Americans due to historical struggles, mistreatment, and a resulting potential for mistrust. Pastoral counselors must avoid making assumptions about the cultural identity of Native American clients without gathering information about both the individual’s internal and external experiences. Both verbal and nonverbal cues offer pastoral counselors a sense of a Native American client’s level of acculturation. Pastoral counselors might get involved with working on large social issues that will then indirectly affect the experience of Native American clients.