The Principles of Culturally Responsive Practice

Dr Sarah Verdon Pedemont

In 2015 I developed the 6 Principles of Culturally Competent Practice as part of my PhD. In the time since then these principles have continued to evolve based on my own learning, research and clinical experiences. The principles are now called the Principles of Culturally Responsive Practice, as we will never be competent is the culture of others, but rather as speech-language pathologists, educators and health professionals we work to respond appropriately to the culture of others and to reflect on our own culture and its impact to make others feel culturally safe. The principles are designed to holistically guide health and education professionals when engaging with children and families.

These 6 principles are:

(1) Cultural self-awareness

Health professionals need to engage in reflexive practice by recognising how their own culture influences the way they perceive and interact with the world around them. Critical self-reflection on one’s own values, worldview and sociocultural positioning in relation to dimensions of diversity facilitates insight into how a culture impacts upon their services delivery and interactions with clients.

(2) Identification of culturally appropriate and mutually motivating goals

Goals need to be developed in conjunction with the individual and their family in accordance with E3BP. Culture impacts every aspect of a person’s life and therefore will be inextricably linked with goal setting – functional goals cannot exist without context.

(3) Culturally and linguistically appropriate tools and resources

Tools for assessment and intervention must be culturally and linguistically relevant to the individual and their context. As such, standardized assessments may not be appropriate and alternate forms of assessment such as dynamic assessment may need to be used. 

(4) Co-production of services with families and communities

Families and communities possess cultural knowledge and support to enable positive therapy outcomes. Engaging with trusted members of a client’s family and or community can help to create a safe and culturally inclusive environment in which therapy can be enacted.

(5) Consideration of cultural, social, political and historical context

It is important to recognise where individuals and families are coming from and cultural and contextual factors that may impact upon their ability to engage in therapy. This includes socioeconomic status, past experiences of discrimination when engaging with health services, and stigma around help seeking.

(6) Collaboration between professionals

Working collaboratively can facilitate holistic client care that builds on existing trusting relationships with professionals to act as a bridge towards expanding care teams in a culturally safe way.

Professional development workshops using the PCRP

I have discussed the application of these principles in a number or publications and have also taught them to professionals through a number of professionals development workshops. If you are interested in learning more about the Principles of Culturally Responsive Practice or in how to support early communication development please contact me to discuss professional development opportunities.

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