In response to the emergent foci in the counselling profession on cultural inclusivity, social determinants of health, and social justice, Dr. Sandra Collins has articulated a model of culturally responsive and social just (CRSJ) counselling that supports anti-oppressive and affirmative values-based practice. The e-book, Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling and psychology, includes many case studies and practice illustrations from other contributors to bridge theory and practice. The contributors have done an excellent job, through their reflections and client stories, of illustrating the principles of the culturally responsive and socially just (CRSJ) counselling model that Dr Collins introduces in the e-book. This e-book is intended as a textbook for multicultural counselling courses as well as for integration across counsellor education curricula. For information on the author and editor, please check out Dr Collins’ Academic and Professional Contributions website.
Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice
Re-shaping professional identity in counselling and psychology
by Sandra Collins
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Culturally Responsive and Socially Just (CRSJ) Counselling
In this e-book, Dr. Collins introduces the culturally responsive and socially just (CRSJ) counselling model. This model is an evolution of her long history of research, writing, and practice in the areas of multicultural counselling and social justice. For more details about her academic and professional work, see https://drsandracollins.com/.
The e-book is organized into six sections based on the core domains in the CRSJ counselling model. The first three domains invite critical analysis of the sociocultural contexts of clients’ lived experiences and the implications of equity, diversity, and inclusivity for the practice of counselling psychology. The last three domains provide a conceptual framework for the counselling process, foregrounding culturally responsive and socially just relational practices, conceptualization of client challenges and preferred outcomes, and implementation of multilevel change processes.
Each section of the e-book features both conceptual, theoretical chapters and applied practice examples in the form of short client scenarios, practitioner reflections, and case studies. Contributors from a wide range of professional and academic settings speak from the heart about how they apply principles of cultural responsivity and social justice with clients. All contributors have applied practice experience in multicultural counselling and social justice.
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As a program developer, a counsellor educator, a reviewer of graduate counselling programs across Canada, and a curriculum developer in the Master of Counselling program at Athabasca University, Dr. Collins been gathering resources, exploring instructional design, and thinking about how to foster learning outcomes and competency development in counselling and psychology for many years. She has enjoyed bringing all of these interests together in the creation of the e-book, Embracing Cultural Responsivity and Social Justice: Re-Shaping Professional Identity in Counselling Psychology, and the accompanying teaching and learning guide.
The Embracing Cultural Responsivity and Social Justice: Re-Shaping Professional Identity in Counselling Psychology e-book foregrounds Canadian perspectives. All contributors are Canadian. The ideas, principles, practices, and cultures represented are grounded in the Canadian professional and social landscape. The e-book is published in Canada, using Canadian spelling and gender-neutral language, and it includes French-language contributions. It has been designed to support the claim to a unique identity by First Nations and other Canadians, to enhance the evolving identity of the professions of counselling, psychotherapy, and psychology in Canada, and to highlight the value of our contributions to the broader disciplines internationally.
In addition to Dr Collins’ chapters, which describe the CRSJ counselling model, the e-book integrates the work of 31 other contributors. Dr. Collins has tried to balance the voices of experienced academics with those of other newer leaders within our field. She recognizes her own position of privilege and advocates for an increase in the diversity of leadership to work toward justice from the inside out in our professions and in society. See the E-Book Preview for the list of contributors.
We intentionally do not assume that the audience for this e-book will be composed solely or even primarily of people belonging to white, middle-class, heterosexual, able-bodied, or other dominant groups. To avoid such a culturally encapsulated, biased, and marginalizing position, Dr. Collins purposefully solicited contributions that speak directly to marginalized counsellors, whether in-training or currently practising. The intent is to honour the lived experiences and cultural knowledge and practices of, for example, Indigenous people, persons of colour, working class counsellors, and members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.
All contributors have been encouraged to speak in the first person, from their personal and professional experiences, to foreground their own cultural contexts and worldviews, and to own their cultural biases. Unlike many counselling texts, most of the contributors speak from within marginalized cultural identities and social locations. They navigate multiple, nondominant identities and are positioned personally and professionally in marginalized social locations. They stand as allies and advocates, and they speak alongside clients to amplify and empower those voices seeking social justice.
The e-book is designed primarily as a teaching and learning tool, organized around a central model. Each key concept in the model is described in the theory chapters and mapped onto conceptual or applied practice examples by various contributors throughout the book. The extensive glossary defines each term in detail, linking it to the current professional literature. There is a network of internal links within the e-book, enabling readers to follow any key concept from the model to the glossary definition, to the conceptual chapters, and to client–counsellor stories that illustrate the concept by clicking on the links. Readers are encouraged to move through the e-book in a nonlinear fashion.
Within her own writing, and through the contributions from other authors, Dr. Collins offers diversity in style and format within a single resource. Some contributions are personal reflections, interviews, or stories, and may include poetry, art, or audio stories. Others share research results or expand conceptual lenses. Many provide prompts for further reflection. We hope to honour readers’ diverse learning styles and to ensure that each is moved in their own ways, emotionally and cognitively, through their experience of the e-book.
The e-book is composed of about 50% theoretical and conceptual content and 50% case studies of various lengths that highlight, most frequently the intersectionality of multiple, nondominant cultural identities. These case studies attend to the social positioning and identity narratives of both clients and counsellors along the dimensions of gender, gender identity, age, ability, Indigeneity, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social class, and religion or spirituality. The writers may highlight a particular lens, such as social class or Indigeneity. However, each attends to, and brings to life, the complex, fluid, intersectional, and contextual nature of client and counsellor identity narratives.
Learning is best facilitated through the integration of theory and practice. Learners are invited to consider a conceptual idea, such as identity or privilege, and then to explore how that concept plays out in the personal experiences of contributors or in their work with individual clients, communities, or broader systems. Drawing on the Companion Guide, learners can be invited to engage in learning activities related to the key concepts. These activities can be linked directly into online courses, or instructors can copy, edit, build on, or otherwise repurpose them (with credit to the original authors).
“I feel that I now have a new set of eyes that will draw me to be more empathetic and compassionate.”
“It really is such a great contribution!!! I love every chapter I have read! I love how personal it is and so thorough!“
I am amazed, astounded and so thankful to you and your group of dedicated writers, counsellors, creative beings and open–hearted truth tellers. What an incredible resource it will be for myself as a counsellor, teacher, and human being in this world.”
Ko, G. (2021). Book Review of Embracing Cultural Responsivity and Social Justice: Re-shaping Professional Identity in Counselling Psychology, Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 55(2), 307-309.
Sandra Collins’s e-book Embracing Cultural Responsivity and Social Justice: Re-Shaping Professional Identity in Counselling Psychology integrates a well-grounded conceptual model for attending to culture and social justice in counselling with applied examples that bridge theory and practice. The book is interconnected between domains, competencies, learning outcomes, and key concepts in the culturally responsive and socially just (CRSJ) counselling model, which enhances meaningfulness, relevancy, and ease of application for readers. The interactive features of the e-book design include (a) audio and video components that bring the contents to life, (b) internal links that support easy navigation between various sections of the book, and (c) links between the concepts in each chapter and detailed glossary definitions that ground the ideas in the professional literature. This e-book is unique in its multimodality and is user friendly with language that is both professional and personal.
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