Multicultural Awareness - Understanding Cultural Diversity

The world is becoming more globalised. Cities are becoming cultural melting pots, we are exposed to global news and issues, people are frequently travelling internationally, international business is booming, people are connecting over the internet all over the world.

Experiencing and connecting with people from different cultures can be interesting and enriching, but it can lead to challenges. With an increased understanding of cultural diversity we are able to optimise positive interaction with people from diverse backgrounds and help people understand and integrate into cultures that are different to their own.

This course is valuable for anybody who works or deals with people from a different culture, or has an interest in understanding different cultures.






  • Understand other cultures and break down cultural barriers
  • Enhance your skills at working with a diverse range of people
  • Gain employment working with people from different cultures - welfare, international business, immigration, international relations, etc


As we grow up within a particular culture we develop ideologies, values, beliefs, norms, customs, meaning, and ways of life that are similar to others within our culture, but that may be different to people from another culture. Cultural diversity refers to these differences. These differences are expressed and exemplified in social practices, attitudes and values, family interactions and expectations, values concerning education, ways of defining and treating health (physical and mental), business and management behaviours and practices, political practices and our interpersonal relations.

As the world becomes more globalised we are exposed to many different cultures. This can lead to a cultural enrichment, but can also lead to challenges. It is through an understanding of these differences that we can positively connect with people from cultures that are different to our own.

This course will develop your sensitivity to culture, diversity and multicultural societies, and improve your capacity to interact with people on multicultural issues.

Successful completion of this course/module will develop your understanding of appropriate practices and procedures within Multicultural Awareness.


Course Structure and Contents

There are 8 lessons in this course:

  1. Cultural Diversity
    • Introduction
    • Defining culture
    • Elements of culture
    • Societal structures and processes
    • Subcultures
    • Key areas of cultural diversity
    • Cultural behaviour
    • Values
    • Social discourse
    • Ideology
    • Expectations
    • Problems ith culture
  2. Cultural Self-Awareness
    • Introduction
    • Defining cultural self
    • Environmental influences
    • Family or social group
    • Definitions of self
    • Psychological influences
    • Human nature
    • Personal autonomy
    • Socio economic and political influences
    • Emphasis or minimisation of cultural diversity
    • Code switching
    • Physical environmental influences
  3. Prejudice and Racism
    • Introduction
    • Ingroups or outgroups
    • Ethnocentrism
    • What is prejudice
    • Functions of prejudice
    • How we measure prejudice
    • Theoretical perspectives on prejudice
    • Stereotypes
    • Functions of stereotypes
    • Dangers of using stereotypes
    • Discrimination
    • Social discrimination
    • Racism
    • Institutional or structural racism
    • Perception
    • Perceptual change
    • Cognitive dissonance
    • Perceptual defence
    • Reducing prejudice
    • Changing stereotypes
    • Developing cultural sensitivity
    • Belonging to a dominant culture
  4. Working with Culturally Different Clients
    • Introduction
    • Communicating across cultures
    • Principles of communication
    • Cultural differences
    • Communicating intimate information
    • The culturally skilled worker
    • Conformity
    • Factors affecting conformity
  5. Barriers to Effective Multi-Cultural Relationships
    • Abnormality
    • The counsellors culture
    • The clients culture
    • Individual differences
    • Cross cultural communication hurdles
    • Culture shock
    • Non verbal communication
    • Developing trust
    • Formal judgements
    • Culture and child development
    • Coping with change
  6. Developing Cultural Competence
    • Introduction
    • Culturally competent service delivery
    • Culturally appropriate service
    • Culturally accessible service
    • Culturally acceptable service
    • Training for cultural change
    • Cross culture counselling in disaster situations
    • The role of family
    • Working with other cultures
  7. Multicultural Mental Health Issues
    • Introduction
    • Problems with cultural difference in psychology
    • Cultural influences on mental health
    • Culture bound syndromes
    • Trance and possession disorder
    • Factors affecting grief and bereavement: social, psychological and cultural influences
  8. Shortcomings of Contemporary Counselling Theories and Future Developments
    • Introduction
    • Culture shock
    • Stages in cultural shock and adjustment
    • Post traumatic stress disorder
    • Treatments for culture distress
    • Successful intercultural adjustment

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Duration - 100 hours


  • Develop an awareness and appreciation of cultural diversity;
  • Understand the cultural awareness of the self through verbal and non-verbal means;
  • Understand the origins and influences of prejudice and racism;
  • Understand the impact of culture when working with culturally different clients;
  • Understand bias toward and barriers against effective multi-cultural relationships;
  • Understand the fundamentals of developing and implementing cultural competence;
  • Understand multi-cultural attitudes toward mental health issues.


  • Learn what is meant by the term ‘culture’, and different cultural groups;
  • Discuss ‘cultural diversity’ and identify problems associated with it;
  • Discuss ‘intra-cultural’ and ‘inter-cultural’ contact to managing cultural diversity;
  • Identify reasons that people and groups make intercultural contact;
  • Explore how we communicate non-verbally;
  • Identify ways (verbal and non-verbal) that we communicate our identification to a cultural group;
  • In what ways a minority culture influence a dominant culture;
  • Ways that people and groups adapt to other cultures;
  • Explain the term ‘individualism-collectivism’;
  • Define
    • ‘ethnocentrism’
    • ‘prejudice’
    • ‘racism’
    • 'stereotype’
    • ‘discrimination’
  • Discuss how prejudice and/or racism help a group or person feel more comfortable about other cultures;
  • Explore the role of stereotyping by a dominant culture in perceived discrimination by an immigrant community;
  • Define ‘culture shock’;
  • Identify barriers to communication that exist in intercultural communication situations;
  • Identify strategies to ensure effective communication with a person from another culture;
  • Explore the influence of culture differences when providing helping or counselling services to clients;
  • Explore ways that people from different cultures deal with psychological or communication problems such as conflict, depression, mental health etc.

What is Culture?

Broadly speaking, culture is the system of shared beliefs, values, customs, behaviours, technologies and products (artifacts) that a society holds, follows, uses or produces to live in their environment, and passes on from generation to generation.

Elements of Culture   -Culture can be characterised by the following four elements:

Cultural traits - how the group communicates symbolically through its products, rituals, laws, social structures, economic systems etc.

Cultural patterns - wider, interrelated patterns of behaviour and interaction in which cultural traits may take on different meanings. An example is the pattern of grieving, which may involve such traits as certain behaviours, dress, foods eaten and not eaten, ways of communicating and use of space, in ways specific to grief situations.

Transmission of knowledge - how the group teaches its young culturally approved and valued ways of behaving, thinking and perceiving. This is a key factor in the continuation of culture, for it gives cultural shape and form to human activity. The simplest example is the learning of language. All human beings have an innate capacity and tendency to learn language, but the form in which that capacity develops, the language, tone and rhythm of a person's communication are learned.

Societal structures and processes - how a group regulates, orders and limits group actions to maintain group cohesion and function. Societies represent culture in action, the everyday application of cultural traits, patterns and knowledge of a group through the group's institutions, systems and norms. These can include family structures, appropriate dress and behaviour (manners), educational processes and institutions, processes of communication (media, censorship), how a society manages the health, activities or discourses of its members, how status is defined, gained or lost, legal and economic systems, enforcement, who can marry whom, age groups and a host of other factors.

Group cohesion relies on the transmission and assimilation of knowledge of social structures and processes, and of the norms and expectations that underlie them. The process by which the individual is acculturated (learns the patterns of his/her culture) is also called socialisation. Socialisation is largely carried out by the family, upon whom the child models much of its adult behaviour, but it also occurs as an effect of the individual's wider social interactions in which the individual which behaviours are is rewarded (with approval, acceptance, inclusion, status, access to opportunities etc.) and which meet with social disapproval (punishment, ridicule, exclusion, low status, marginalisation, limited access etc.). Socialisation ensures the individual's acceptance in the group and conformity to certain social expectations, which in turn ensures that social systems and norms are maintained.



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Phone (UK) 01384 44272, (International) +44 (0) 1384 442752, or

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