Date of Conferral
Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
Cultural awareness is an ethical standard in the social work profession and, as the diversity in the United States continues to grow, it is a social work practice problem when cultural awareness is not implemented in mental health settings. The National Association of Social Workers revised the cultural awareness standards to include cultural humility and intersectionality as practice indicators. The purpose of this action research study was to examine how clinical social workers demonstrated cultural humility and intersectionality in mental health settings. Person-centered theory guided this study and a total of 17 clinical social workers in New Mexico participated in in-depth interviews to give examples of clinical practice behaviors that demonstrated cultural humility and intersectionality. Thematic analysis was used to identify common themes, which included (a) genuine interest in the client's culture, (b) therapist congruence, (c) unconditional positive regard, and (d) empathic understanding. The implications of this study for social work practice and social change are that findings could contribute to improved cultural awareness in mental health settings and decrease mental health disparities among minorities. Recommendations include creating continuing education, mentoring minority college students on their career path in mental health, and developing a mental health business model that integrates cultural awareness.