Domain VI: Implement and Evaluate Culturally Responsive and Socially Just Change Processes

CC18 Macrolevel Change

Engage in social justice action at the macrolevel (i.e., broad social, economic, and political systems) on behalf of clients.

Recommended Reading

Collins, S. (2018). Culturally responsive and socially just change processes:
Implementing and evaluating micro, meso, and macrolevel interventions. In S. Collins (Ed.), Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology (pp. 748–757). Counselling Concepts.

As counsellors work with their clients and attend to issues of social injustice and inequity, it inevitably becomes apparent that intervention at the macrolevel is essential to change the broader social, economic, political systems that negatively impact client well-being. Core Competency 18 of the CRSJ counselling model (Collins, 2018) introduces these macrolevel change processes. Most often the macrolevel interventions below are implemented on behalf of clients. In some cases, a process of formal or informal cultural auditing (Collins et al., 2010) leads counsellors to recognize themes across multiple clients that point to the need for larger scale systems change. For example, if a number of immigrant mothers experience problems accessing income support, a counsellor might consider investigating the systemic barriers specific to this population. Collaborative efforts on this level are often interprofessional, with change amplified by multiple voices. By asserting that the professional is political in Core Competency 9, I invite counselling professions to consider their historical embodiment within systems of cultural oppression, and I call on our collective will to actively promote social change (Audet, 2016; Fellner et al., 2016).

CRSJ Counselling Key Concepts

The activities in this chapter are designed to support competency development related to the key concepts listed below. Click on the concepts in the table and you will be taken to the related activities, exercises, learning resources, or discussion prompts.

Global Social Justice

Where do I start? (Self-study)

When I observe what is happening around the world and see the disintegration of LGBTTQI rights and the persecution of people in many countries, I can feel quite overwhelmed and disempowered by the magnitude of the challenges. However, I have found small ways to make a contribution to global social justice through organizations like those listed below. I write letters, I sign petitions, and I provide financial support to global initiatives. Explore these website and consider other international intiatives through which you might make an active contribution towards global social justice.

Choose a nondominant cultural group to which you have some affiliation or with which you want to position yourself as an ally. Search the Internet for well-recognized organizations that advocate for social justice and human rights related to this population. Sign up for newsletters or notices about campaigns you can participate in.

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Professional Practice/Theory Change

Reflections on culturally responsive and socially just counselling practice

If you have reached this place in your reading of Collins (2018) and have engaged in some of the learning activities presented in this guide, then you have been bearing witness to an attempt to effect change in the theory and practice of counselling. You may want to take a few minutes to reflect back on your own personal and professional positioning before you engaged in this learning process. Consider the following prompts:

  • How has your thinking about counselling theory evolved? What is your current view on the universality of counselling theories and practices?
  • How has your thinking evolved related to how client challenges develop, how to make sense of those challenges within the contexts of their lives, and how to work with clients to optimize change?
  • What are the implications for how you engage in your work with all clients going forward?

The CRSJ counselling model represents a starting place for thinking about transforming professional practice and counselling theory. However, it reflects my thinking and the thinking of other contributors at a particular point in time and in specific personal and professional contexts. Now, in the fall of 2023, I am engaged in building a new vision for what culturally responsive and socially just practice might look like (stay tuned!). You may want to add the following to your reflections:

  • What has happened on sociocultural, economic, and political fronts in recent years that would suggest the need for changes to this model?
  • What is missing in the CRJS counselling model that would offer the potential for further evolution of the counselling theory and practice with all clients?
  • What specific lenses, concepts, or practice principles might it be important to centre as the model evolves?

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Social Justice Action/Activism

Calling on the professions (Small group activity)

In some cases, counselors may collaborate to develop and implement a change process at the macrolevel (broader social, economic, or political systems). The goals of social justice action/activism are often to

  • Foster equity in access to services, resources, social capital;
  • Eliminate culturally oppressive policies and practices; and
  • Foster inclusion and full participate in society.

With your small group, choose a credible source of national news. Come to consensus on a news story that open the door to one or more of these goals. Assume that you are members of a task force or a chapter of a national professional organization. Together map out a proposal for that organization to initiate and effect change at the macrolevel. The social justice action/activism process below builds upon the Advocacy Competencies of the American Counselling Association (Lewis et al., 2002). You may modify this process; these are not intended as fixed or comprehensive steps.

  1. Identify the social, political, economic, and cultural factors that pose barriers to the well-being of individuals and vulnerable groups.
  2. Identify challenges, opportunities, and preferred outcomes.
  3. Identify and develop a working alliance with potential allies for change.
  4. Establish achievable and well-defined goals.
  5. Collaborate to identify specific social change targets and processes in line with those goals (e.g., lobbying, media, public education, research).
  6. With allies, develop clear rationales for change, supported by credible data.
  7. Implement change processes—collaborative influence towards preferred outcomes.
  8. Evaluate outcomes and plan for sustainability.

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Systemic Structural and Policy Change

Advocating for changes to public policy

Social, economic, and political policies at federal and provincial levels can have significant impacts on larger portions of the population. Consider, for example, some historical public policy issues identified through legalized discrimination learning activity. Certain policies place inequitable barriers to access to health prevention or healing services and resources. In some cases the lack of appropriate public health policy related to issues affecting particular nondominant populations leaves clients with no choice but to engage in systems that embody colonial, racist, cisnormative, and other oppressive ideologies. Engagement in public policy change “strengthens the voice and presence of psychology in the public domains” (Roysircar et al., 2018, p. 49).

The Canadian Psychological Association has created an Advocacy Toolkit for Psychology, which focuses specifically on supporting practitioners to engage in advocacy related to public policy change. For the purposes of this activity, focus specifically on the Psychology and Public Policy in Canada: A Government Relations Guide for Canada. Following the steps in the Getting Started section (pp. 16–18), reproduced below, to create a realistic and practical plan to engage in advocacy related to an issue about which you feel passionate.

  1. Priority-setting: What is the issue(s) that is most important to you?
  2. Do your homework: How familiar are you with the issue?
  3. Effective communications: What are your key messages?
  4. Contacting your elected representative: With whom should you meet?
  5. What should your approach be? Deciding on tactics.
  6. Is this a national/federal, provincial/territorial or local issue?

Once you have developed your plan, take action.

  1. Browse other sections of the Psychology and Public Policy in Canada: A Government Relations Guide for Canada for tips on how to proceed.
  2. Act on your plan by writing a letter, making a phone call, requesting a face-to-face meeting, or engaging in another form of advocacy.
  3. Engage in critical reflection on the process you engaged in. What did you learn? What worked well, and what worked less well? How would you adjust your plan in the future?
  4. Reinforce your commitment to public policy change by considering all the possible positive outcomes of your actions, about which you may never fully know.

The American Conselling Association has a similar Advocacy Toolkit related to government affairs and public policy. Consellors for Social Justice provide additional tips on their Call to Action webpage.

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Transforming Public Perception

Dispelling cultural myths and misconceptions (Partner activity)

Throughout this teaching and learning guide, you have been exposed to myths, stereotypes, and misconceptions of various cultural groups. These perceptions persist within various cultural communities and within the broader society. I have deconstructed these sociocultural discourses in various ways in hopes that your thinking will be challenged and expanded.

It is imperative, however, that counsellors also work together to change public perceptions that disempower and oppress members of various nondominant populations.

  • If you a member of a nondominant population, you may want to select an issues that you feel passionate or that affect your cultural community. Alternatively, you may choose an issue that has an impact on your current clients or clients you anticipate working with in the future.
  • Conduct a search of popular media to see what stereotypes or cultural myths you can discover.
  • Identify a specific misperceptions, knowledge gap, discriminatory belief, or other socially common and harmful perception.
  • Seek out guidelines for using social media, public media, and other avenues to invite change in public perceptions. Here is one example:
  • Check out a couple of examples of initiatives at transforming public perceptions by contributors to Collins (2018) ebook. Each illustrates creative ways to make a difference based on their areas of passion.
  • Then create a list of strategies that you might use, either on your own or with other practitioners, to chip away at these public perceptions.

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Audet, C. (2016). Social justice and advocacy in a Canadian context. In N. Gazzola, M. Buchanan, O. Sutherland, & S. Nuttgens (Eds.), Handbook of counselling and psychotherapy in Canada (pp. 95-122). Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

Collins, S. (2018). Embracing cultural responsivity and social justice: Re-shaping professional identity in counselling psychology. Counselling Concepts.

Collins, S., Arthur, N., & Wong-Wylie, G. (2010). Enhancing reflective practice in multicultural counseling through cultural auditing. Journal of Counseling & Development, 88(3), 340-347.

Fellner, K., John, R., & Cottell, S. (2016). Counselling Indigenous peoples in a Canadian context. In N. Gazzola, M. Buchanan, O. Sutherland, & S. Nuttgens (Eds.), Handbook of counselling and psychotherapy in Canada (pp. 123-147). Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association.

Roysircar, G., Studeny, J., Rodgers, S. E., & Lee-Barber, J. S. (2018). Multicultural disparities in legal and mental health systems: Challenges and potential solutions. The Practitioner Scholar: Journal of Counseling and Professional Psychology, 7, 34-59.


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