Equality and Diversity • Counselling Tutor (2023)

We live in a diverse society, and in order to counsel ethically and effectively, it is important that we are mindful of how diversity and difference impact on our clients, our profession, our own lives and the therapeutic relationships we form with clients. This understanding helps us to navigate and work with the challenges and the benefits which inevitably exist within a diverse society. So what exactly do we mean when we talk about equality and diversity in counselling?

Equality and Diversity • Counselling Tutor (1)

(Video) How diversity impacts on the counselling relationship

What is Diversity in Counselling?

Diversity is often understood to refer to the presence of particular differences between individuals in a group of people or a society. The most prominently recognised types of difference are sometimes called “The Big Seven”. They are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Ability (physical and/or mental)
  • Sexuality
  • Socio-economic Class

This list is increasingly seen as limited in its scope, and not necessarily inclusive of all the ways in which difference manifests in 21st century Britain. LGBTQ+ diversity, ethnicity, neurodiversity, family background (e.g. adoption or non-conventional family background), heritage and culture, regional differences, first language, and complexities of societal privilege are not comprehensively reflected in this list.

What is Equality in Counselling?

(Video) Episode 67 Diversity in Counselling

Equality is the principle that every person should be treated fairly and equally. This is an extremely important value for the counselling profession to uphold at all levels.

The most up-to-date BACP Ethical Framework highlights that we not only have a duty to demonstrate equality and respect diversity in our interactions with clients, but we also must uphold these values in relation to our colleagues. This extends to counselling organisations, colleges and universities too. Awareness of equality and diversity in counselling touches on the ethical principles of respect and justice outlined in the framework:

  • Respect: “We will… endeavour to demonstrate equality, value diversity and ensure inclusion for all clients.” and “We will take the law concerning equality, diversity and inclusion into careful consideration and strive for a higher standard than the legal minimum.” (BACP, 2018, p. 20)
  • Justice: “the fair and impartial treatment of all clients and the provision of adequate services.”. (BACP, 2018, p.11).

How Diversity Impacts on the Therapeutic Relationship

Potential Barriers to Relating

Diversity and difference in the therapeutic relationship can create challenges to the therapeutic relationship and may present barriers to relating. Potential issues include:

  • Lack of knowledge about the client’s culture – A client may wish to talk about attitudes, customs or cultural references which are unfamiliar to the therapist. In cases where there is a lack of cultural knowledge on the part of the therapist, it is important that the therapist does not rely on the client to educate them. Undertaking professional development around working with particular client groups is likely to be beneficial, and it is also important to remember that we cannot know everything – developing a strong therapeutic bond with a client can often be enough to explore at depth without having to understand all the ins-and-outs of the client’s cultural background. Additionally, a client may choose a therapist who they feel is likely to be a close cultural match, or who specialises in issues relating to particular cultures. As therapists, we trust in the client’s ability to autonomously select a route through therapy which will best support their journey.
  • Accessibility – Not all buildings/therapy spaces are accessible for all clients. This can create a very real, physical barrier to relating. The BACP Ethical Framework stipulates that we should “make adjustments to overcome barriers to accessibility, so far as is reasonably possible, for clients of any ability wishing to engage with a service.” (BACP, 2018, p. 20).
  • Communication – Interpreters may be necessary for those for whom English is not a first language, or for clients who are hearing-impaired and wish to access counselling. Challenges arising from the use of interpreters include the necessary adjustments to confidentiality agreements to include the interpreter, as well as potentially less fluid communication between therapist and client and the possibility that some meaning could be ‘lost in translation’, particularly subtleties of inflection and emphasis. Specialist services exist for clients with language needs, including bilingual therapists and counsellors who are able to use sign language to work directly with hearing-impaired clients.
(Video) Episode 220 - Diversity in counselling - Choosing your supervisor - Millennial clients

Diversity as a Benefit to Therapy

Diversity does not necessarily create barriers to relating; in fact, it may be that speaking with a therapist from a different background or perspective offers something valuable to the client. For example, a client who is experiencing difficulties with aspects of their culture or beliefs may find it beneficial to talk with somebody who is completely unconnected to the issues they are bringing. Additionally, somebody may wish to work with a therapist of a different gender, age or with another difference in order to gain a fresh perspective or address relational patterns in the therapeutic work.

Our Personal Perspectives and Unconscious Bias

We all have unconscious biases and it is likely that on some level we will sometimes make assumptions about our clients based on their characteristics, backgrounds and even their looks. These assumptions are a response to our experiences, or introjected values, and if left unexamined and unscrutinised, may cause difficulties or even damage the therapeutic alliance.

It is important that in our personal development we strive to recognise what assumptions and beliefs we hold regarding difference and diversity, and to be mindful of how they could impact the way we interact with clients. Supervision and an ongoing process of personal reflection are both vital for developing and maintaining good standards of practice, and nurturing our therapeutic relationships when working with difference.

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5 Ways of Working with Diversity

(Video) Understanding Equality & Diversity - Equality Act 2010 [UK]

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BACP (2018) Ethical Framework for the Counselling Professions [Online]. Lutterworth: BACP. Available from: <https://www.bacp.co.uk/events-and-resources/ethics-and-standards/ethical-framework-for-the-counselling-professions/> [Accessed 05 July 2018].

This article was written for Counselling Tutor by Erin Stevens.

(Video) Diversity, Intersectionality & Psychotherapy – Dr Dwight Turner, PhD

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Why does a counsellor need to respond to difference and diversity? ›

Therapy is also a place to go to feel understood in your experiences and that is one reason why diversity is so important. Diversity in therapy offers just that – a better understanding of a client's background, race, culture, and belief system.

What are examples of diversity issues in counselling? ›

Examples of areas of difference and diversity include gender, faith position, ethnic origin, sexuality and disability. In counselling, the key thing is not to make assumptions about the client either based on just parts of their lives or because you are applying your own frame of reference.

What are three factors or specific aspects of diversity that counselors should consider when working with clients from a different culture? ›

Understanding Cultural Competence
  • The capacity for people to increase their knowledge and understanding of cultural differences.
  • The ability to acknowledge cultural assumptions and biases.
  • The willingness to make changes in thought and behavior to address those biases.

Why is it important to value equality and diversity with clients? ›

Good equality and diversity practices make sure that the services provided to people are fair and accessible to everyone. They ensure that people are treated as equals, that people get the dignity and respect they deserve and that their differences are celebrated.

How do you embrace and respond to diversity? ›

Ways to support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace
  1. Be aware of unconscious bias. ...
  2. Communicate the importance of managing bias. ...
  3. Promote pay equity. ...
  4. Develop a strategic training program. ...
  5. Acknowledge holidays of all cultures. ...
  6. Make it easy for your people to participate in employee resource groups. ...
  7. Mix up your teams.
Jun 21, 2022

What are the three main challenges we face within equality and diversity? ›

Overcoming three barriers to promoting equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Unconscious bias.
  • Lack of representation.
  • Privilege.
Nov 16, 2022

What are the 3 challenges of diversity? ›

As you diversify your team, it's possible you could see more biases, discrimination, and harassment. In fact, 61 percent of workers have witnessed or experienced discrimination in the workplace based on age, race, gender, or LGBTQ+ identity.

What are the 5 diversity issues? ›

Age, race, ethnicity, cultural background, gender, sexual orientation, and religion, immediately come to mind, but have you considered educational background, managerial experience, neurodiversity and even personality traits.

What are the 7 key areas of diversity? ›

7 types of diversity in the workplace
  • Cultural diversity. ...
  • Age diversity. ...
  • Racial diversity. ...
  • Gender diversity. ...
  • Sexual orientation. ...
  • Disability. ...
  • Religious diversity.
Feb 3, 2023

What are the 6 key areas of diversity? ›

Here's a breakdown of these forms of diversity:
  • Cultural diversity. This type of diversity is related to each person's ethnicity and it's usually the set of norms we get from the society we were raised in or our family's values. ...
  • Race diversity. ...
  • Religious diversity. ...
  • Age diversity. ...
  • Sex / Gender / Sexual orientation. ...
  • Disability.

What are the 6 best strategies for working with diversity? ›

Six Strategies for Embracing Diversity in the Workplace
  • Start the conversation. ...
  • Increase accountability and transparency. ...
  • Develop inclusive leadership skills. ...
  • Notice the diversity (or lack of it) during discussions and decisions. ...
  • Pay attention to how all people are treated. ...
  • Act as a vocal ally.

What are the three key skills to Maximise the value of diversity? ›

Effectively managing diversity in the workplace starts by focusing on these three things:
  • Connect. Everyone is driven differently. ...
  • Creative Collaboration. Set your team up for success by clearly identifying company and department goals. ...
  • Constant Communication. Give frequent coaching and feedback on how they are doing.
Oct 26, 2017

What are the three possible approaches to handling diversity? ›

In our work, we categorize these efforts into three approaches: building representational diversity (what we can see and count), fostering interactional diversity (the capacity to engage diversity effectively), and committing to structural diversity (how an organization or institution enacts this commitment).

How to answer interview questions on equality and diversity? ›

When asked a question about diversity, discuss your direct experiences with people of different cultures. Refrain from saying you don't see color. Instead, explain the value of honoring diverse cultures and learning from others. If you are sincere in your answers to diversity questions, your true character will shine.

What are the key principles of equality and diversity? ›

Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.

How do you bring diversity together? ›

How to Build Diverse Teams
  1. Address all aspects of diversity. ...
  2. Customize your vision and company culture. ...
  3. Redefine your recruiting strategy. ...
  4. Identify and eliminate any bias. ...
  5. Make employees feel valued. ...
  6. Practice empathetic leadership. ...
  7. Celebrate cultural differences. ...
  8. Provide leadership development opportunities.
Aug 22, 2022

How do you demonstrate value and respect for diversity? ›

How to respect diversity in a school or work environment
  1. Accept people's differences but find common ground. ...
  2. Learn something new from people that are different to you, don't shut it down. ...
  3. Make sure you give everyone a chance to have an opinion. ...
  4. Avoid using stereotypes and recognise and address your own bias.

How do you promote unity in diversity? ›

In order to promote unity in diversity, we should consider a number of steps. First, there needs to be proportionate development. Second, we should respect the will, aspirations and needs of the people. Third, we should identify genuine problems, ascertain their root causes and address them appropriately.

What are 3 common barriers to equality? ›

Unconscious bias. Women's under-estimation/lack of belief of their abilities to do the most senior roles. Lack of sponsorship. Racism.

What is equality and diversity interview questions? ›

Tell Me About a Time When You Advocated for Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace. Can You Give Me an Example of How You Make Your Direct Reports Feel a Sense of Inclusion, Belonging, and Equity on a Daily Basis? What Steps Will You Take to Eliminate Bias From Your Hiring Process?

What are the 4 layers of diversity? ›

There are generally four different types of diversity: internal, external, organizational, and worldview—and you should aim to understand and represent them all.

What is the most important diversity issue? ›

1. Acceptance and Respect. A fundamental value that contributes to a successfully diversified workplace is respect among workers and employees. When there is a lack of acceptance of the diverse culture and beliefs among employees, conflicts may arise.

What are the two main factors that affect diversity? ›

Diversity is influenced by two main factors, i.e. historical factors and geographical factors.

What are 3 concepts of diversity? ›

Affinity bonds us to people with whom we share some of our likes and dislikes, building emotional communities. Experiential diversity influences we might call identities of growth. Cognitive diversity makes us look for other minds to complement our thinking: what we might call identities of aspiration.

What is the best example of diversity? ›

Examples of internal diversity include race, ethnicity, age, nation of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or physical ability. While these are personal factors, they tie directly to the 30 rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

What are 5 ways to respect cultural diversity? ›

Respect for other cultures
  • Self-awareness. Begin awareness that your culture is no more valuable or correct than anyone else's. ...
  • Educate yourself. Expand your knowledge and cultural awareness by: ...
  • Engage. While you may tend to gravitate to people who share your culture. ...
  • Don't stereotype. ...
  • Appreciate the differences.
Dec 5, 2022

What are the core values of diversity? ›

To embed diversity as a core value, organizations should respect and appreciate differences in age, gender, ethnicity, education, physical abilities, race, and religion among individuals. Employees should be empowered as individuals and trusted to make the decisions that are in the best interest of the company.

What are the two main types of diversity? ›

While defining diversity can be difficult, it may be helpful to understand two different types of diversity: Acquired and inherent.

How do you explain diversity short answer 6? ›

Answer: Diversity is the coexistence of different people, plants, animals, etc. It can also be defined as the differences in individual characteristics of a person or a thing. For example, India exhibits diversity as various people practise different religions, speak different languages and have different ethnicity.

What key strategies can enable diversity? ›

10 Effective Diversity and Inclusion Strategies
  • Using inclusive language. ...
  • Challenging unconscious biases. ...
  • Educating leadership. ...
  • Mentoring. ...
  • Cultural events. ...
  • Diversity training. ...
  • Core company values. ...
  • Create an environment that is suited to everyone.

What are the ten 10 ways to respect diversity in the workplace? ›

Ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace
  • Be aware of unconscious bias.
  • Communicate the importance of managing bias.
  • Promote pay equity.
  • Develop a strategic training program.
  • Acknowledge holidays of all cultures.
  • Make it easy for your people to participate in employee resource groups.
  • Mix up your teams.
Jun 21, 2022

What is the best way to embrace diversity? ›

Being respectful is the key to adapting to a new, diverse environment. To prevent or resolve conflicts that may occur in any social interaction, you should maintain an attitude of respect for others, be open-minded and willing to compromise, and know how to work together calmly to resolve conflicts.

What is a good diversity interview question? ›

Describe a time where a project or decision you made was enhanced by including diverse perspectives. 2) Working with people from different backgrounds or cultures can present challenges. Describe a time where differences in background made communication challenging. How did you handle this situation?

What are the 3 pillars of inclusion? ›

The three pillars of inclusion
  • Defining inclusivity.
  • Pillar one: Teaching and learning.
  • Pillar two: Wider support and culture.
  • Pillar three: Key workers.
  • Final thoughts.
  • SecEd Autumn Edition 2022.
  • Further information & resources.
Nov 1, 2022

What are the three pillars of Dei? ›

Johnson & Johnson's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) philosophy is embedded through its three-pillar strategy of enabling the ecosystem for innovation, workforce representation, reputation and business impact.

What skills would you need to support a diverse group? ›

Diversity skills are essential to help you better understand and deal with people who are not like you and to foster a diverse and inclusive work environment. Inclusive communication requires a receptive attitude, a degree of empathy, active listening, and a great awareness of other cultures and perspectives.

What strategies have you used to respond to diversity challenges? ›

10 Ways to Overcome the Diversity Challenge
  • Educate your organisation. ...
  • Gather data at every step. ...
  • Lose the 'the right fit' approach. ...
  • Look beyond traditional talent pools. ...
  • Re-word your job descriptions. ...
  • Consider diversity partnerships. ...
  • Loosen your working processes. ...
  • Set up mentorship schemes.
Oct 16, 2017

Why is it important for a counsellor to be aware of different cultures? ›

The multicultural framework benefits both the therapist and the client during a counseling session. It empowers the counselor to be aware of how their own background affects their therapeutic style, and it helps them better understand the client's needs. Cultural acceptance is critical for therapists.

Why is valuing difference and diversity so important? ›

It is important to value diversity because: people build a stronger sense of identity and wellbeing, and have better education and career outcomes when their diverse strengths, abilities, interests and perspectives are understood and supported.

Why is diversity and difference important? ›

Diversity enhances creativity. It encourages the search for novel information and perspectives, leading to better decision making and problem solving. Diversity can improve the bottom line of companies and lead to unfettered discoveries and breakthrough innovations.

Why is acknowledging differences important? ›

Acknowledging differences will help you bring understanding and compassion to your interactions with others. See Implicit bias to learn to identify and understand implicit bias, microaggressions and intersectionality.

In what way do counselors promote cultural diversity? ›

School counselors can provide culturally responsive counseling by: exploring their personal knowledge, attitudes and beliefs about working with diverse student populations. ensuring each student has access to a school counseling program that advocates for all students in diverse cultural groups.

How do counselors uphold cultural diversity? ›

Culturally competent counselors strive to enhance their awareness, knowledge and skills to work with others who are culturally different from themselves in meaningful ways. This includes deconstructing long-held assumptions, values, beliefs and biases that do not foster cross-cultural sensitivity.

How can I be culturally aware in counseling? ›

Being proactive
  1. Give your therapist relevant information about your culture and background.
  2. Ask questions and do research about mental health in your community.
  3. Tell your therapist the role you want your family to play in your treatment.
  4. Be aware of how your treatment is going and if your therapist is the right fit.

Why is diversity important 3 reasons? ›

Diversity brings in new ideas and experiences, and people can learn from each other. Bringing in different ideas and perspectives leads to better problem-solving. Working in diverse teams opens dialogue and promotes creativity. The value of diversity is true for our culture, too.

What can you do to promote diversity? ›

Ways to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace
  1. Be aware of unconscious bias.
  2. Communicate the importance of managing bias.
  3. Promote pay equity.
  4. Develop a strategic training program.
  5. Acknowledge holidays of all cultures.
  6. Make it easy for your people to participate in employee resource groups.
  7. Mix up your teams.
Jun 21, 2022

What is the key value of diversity? ›

Diversity is about empowering people by respecting and appreciating what makes them different, in terms of age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, education, religion, and how we think.

What is the best answer to diversity interview question? ›

Be genuine when talking about your commitment to diversity. When asked a question about diversity, discuss your direct experiences with people of different cultures. Refrain from saying you don't see color. Instead, explain the value of honoring diverse cultures and learning from others.

What are 2 important benefits of diversity? ›

Diversity increases innovation, creativity and strategic thinking because teams of people who come from different backgrounds can draw upon their unique experiences and a wider range of knowledge to spark new, innovative ideas.

What are the principles of equality and diversity? ›

Equality is about ensuring everybody has an equal opportunity, and is not treated differently or discriminated against because of their characteristics. Diversity is about taking account of the differences between people and groups of people, and placing a positive value on those differences.

Why is it important to accept and tolerate others and how does this encourage diversity? ›

Respecting both similarities and differences in others opens doors to many opportunities. Respecting both similarities and differences in others opens doors to many opportunities. You'll learn new things and make better decisions, which in turn will help your career and improve your self-confidence.

How do you develop an understanding of diversity? ›

Read books and articles educating yourself on other cultures, races, religions, genders, etc. to educate yourself on those who are unlike yourself. b. Watch movies and shows that depict lives and experiences that are different from yours.

Why do we need diversity and inclusion? ›

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) is more than policies, programs, or headcounts. Equitable employers outpace their competitors by respecting the unique needs, perspectives and potential of all their team members. As a result, diverse and inclusive workplaces earn deeper trust and more commitment from their employees.


1. Counselling Skills- Diversity
(Counselling & Self Development Resources)
2. Being the other: diversity symposium keynote
(The Counselling Channel)
3. Tutor Induction Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
4. Episode 63 Patterns of relating in counselling
5. Counselling and the law
6. Anjula Mutanda & NCS talk about diversity in Counselling & Psychotherapy
(The National Counselling Society)


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