Diversity training is often the last choice for workers, which is why many organisations make Diversity training mandatory.
As Diversity training facilitators, one of the questions we ask the participants is “Do you deliver Diversity groups or one to one sessions with your clients?”, The response is rarely ‘yes’. Most professionals attend the training and learn about difference, conflict, prejudices and so on, and while they may be comfortable exploring these issues with colleagues, it appears that their knowledge and insight is not always transferred to the client.
So what gets in the way? Is there a fear of the dynamic that may arise with, or among service users? If diversity means difference, there is likely to be a dynamic that can be contained within agreed and established boundaries and give a forum for exploration and learning for service users.
Workers enter their professions with their own prejudices and personal view of the world. These do not disappear as soon as they enter the therapeutic arena, but they are generally managed, or addressed. Equally the client can explore their prejudices and pre-conceptions in a therapeutic setting and relate these to other behaviours and interactions in the world around them. All talking therapies clearly state that once something is aired in the open, it has the capacity to be explored.
In treatment settings, it is not possible to embrace difference without acknowledging difference and helping others to do the same. The objective of Diversity is to be pro-active and not reactive, and to respect others’ opinions, whether we agree with them or not. It is to take a view of their world from the way that they perceive it.
In treatment service we have a responsibility to role model this process to the service user, and also to engage them in a conversation about the discrimination they have faced along their journey and how they have coped with feeling different. Otherwise, the service or the professional may give the impression that they “dont practice what they preach.”