CELLTR joins with the Beedie School of Business Administrators to foster Multicultural Helping Skills

August 06, 2015

“This is the most valuable session I have had in over 15 years around counselling!” exclaimed a Beedie Business School staff member in a two-day workshop facilitated by professors and students from the Counselling Psychology Master’s program in SFU’s Faculty of Education.

The Beedie School of Business Helping Skills Workshop was coordinated by the Centre for English Language Learning Teaching and Research (CELLTR) and facilitated by the Dean of Education, Dr. Kris Magnusson, the Associate Dean, Administration of Education, Dr. David Paterson, along with graduate students from the Counselling Psychology program, Jenn McArthur and Colleen Thompson on June 25–26, 2015.

The aim of the workshop was to provide an overview of basic helping skills and sensitivity to multilingual and multicultural issues to Beedie School of Business staff in helping roles, including members of the Career Management Centre, the Student Engagement Office and Academic Advisors for both undergraduate and graduate business students. Being equipped with these skills enables these helping professionals to better serve and empower all members of their academic community, and in particular, the English as an Additional Language (EAL) community seeking guidance and assistance.

One participant explained how they became more aware of their own biases. “When we were doing the ‘Who am I?’ exercise on culture, it made me very uncomfortable. It felt almost intrusive for someone to question like that. It made me aware of my own bias, how others may feel the same or different depending on their cultural background."

The first day of the workshop covered the various helping roles as well as the qualities, skills and language of the helping professions. One participant realized that when meeting with a client, "really focusing on body language and on seemingly minute gestures/actions can change a client's perspective."

The second day deepened the conversation by exploring the themes of the first day as they relate to both career and diversity. This high-energy and interactive workshop also introduced participants to triadic practice, allowing each member to play the part of a helper, an observer and a client. These practice sessions allowed members to experience and observe helping interactions from a number of different perspectives. "In our professional roles, we always try to put ourselves in the client's shoes, but it is quite different when you are actually in the role of the client." noted a participant.

The interdisciplinary workshop was an opportunity to address current issues in the advising role from a counselling perspective. Advisors and counsellors met and discussed various aspects of their roles and to explore how these differ and where they overlap. At the end of the two-day workshop, participants expressed their excitement to strengthen their existing skills. One person remarked, “I realized I was sitting on the sidelines of my life. I am feeling hopeful of getting ‘back in the field’ and making discoveries, getting into something new and making appropriate change.”

Participants also shared their intention to further develop their helping skills in collaboration with their peers, in an effort to become increasingly culturally sensitive in their practice.

“The ultimate goal is to enable the client to write their own story. Clients are often coming in to seek answers to career literacy, gumption, balance, or self-worth – sometimes we need to make them aware that they may experience more ease if they can consider these questions and sometimes try to answer for themselves.”

CELLTR offers customized workshops for faculties, departments, offices, and centres at Simon Fraser University. To request a workshop, contact:

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