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Open Collection of Student Writing (OCSW)

Understanding the Client

Note: The names in this document have been changed from the original text to initials. 

Case 1: R. W. 

When working with R., we need to understand the culture he was raised in. He grew up around “medicine man” practices, and these traditions seem very important to him, and they’re evident in his desire to attend the tribal meetings, his tattoos, and his animal figures on his shirt. His specific tribe would especially be important to understand because they definitely seem to be active in their practices and understanding the traditions of the tribe would give insight into R’s actions. These medicine men probably have certain rituals that they follow. Perhaps animals act as a spiritual symbol for medicine men and offer protection and guidance, therefore he desires to keep images of animals on his clothing. His tattoos also probably offer significant meaning for his chosen life path.

The fact that R seeks to attend these tribal gatherings shows much devotion on his part to his heritage and his practice. This ritual of meeting together as a tribe probably has much emotional and spiritual significance to R, and also remind him of his purpose and reasons for choosing the path of the medicine man. This particular ritual is so important that he would be willing to miss the very first week of his job to participate with his tribe. R does not show a lack of work ethic, in fact he is very devoted to the practice and is continually seeking for ways to improve in this area of his life. This only seems like a lack of work ethic by asking for a vacation right up front, but the reasons behind the requested time off shows much devotion from R.

A collaborative approach is helpful when looking at this situation because it provides the  opportunity for looking at multiple angles and levels of the issue. An authoritative approach wouldn’t consider all of the angles and would use judgements to abruptly attempt to solve the issue fast instead of taking the time to understand it.

There is challenge in balancing these different cultures. R’s body language and appearance is probably off putting to most people that he encounters. In his culture, his appearance may represent strength, or dignity. But, in American culture not showing any emotion and having prolonged eye contact is perceived at being rude or trying to intimidate someone. His experience has not proven to turn out well in several instances from employers not fully understanding R’s situation. The attendance of the ritual is not favored by his employers, but him not showing out up to the tribal meeting could bring him negative consequences to him from the tribal aspect of his life. Perhaps compromises could be taken into consideration, or information on this tribal medicine festival could be useful for the employers to consider.

The school officials have probably not had any exposure to the tribal culture that R has been raised in. These school officials may interpret his body language and appearance as R attempting to be intimidating, thinking he’s not there for the right reasons, and they possibly think he’s not qualified to do the job because he doesn’t appear to be the stereotypical nurse that they would expect to see. I think that working with the employers and showing them Russell’s side of things could be especially helpful.

I think accepting the gift from R is an important first step to having these cultures begin to understand each other for this case. I think accepting a gift would show willingness to work with R and also respect.

Case 2: J. Mc.

Understanding J’s Irish American culture would lead to understanding what’s familiar to J, and what brings him comfort. Understanding his financial situation would help to understand why he behaves or doesn’t behave in certain ways. His physical impairment may affect his self-esteem, so he may not feel he can accomplish his dreams, or have a successful time in his life. With his age, he may be missing his wife and the life they’ve had together for so many years, and he may have a hard time adjusting to the changes in his life, especially since there’s so many things he hasn’t been able to do since she’s passed.

I think it would be helpful to understand the sighted guide techniques, J is probably used to this because of his wife, and letting him know about the surrounding environment would show kindness and consideration towards him by giving him information on his surroundings. I think showing him around the office would help him adapt to being there.

I would compensate by making sure he understand things verbally, and if writing is absolutely needed, I could read it to him or provide a braille copy if possible. Talking and letting him talk to me would be useful, I probably wouldn’t show him pictures or any movie clips with his impairment.

I think acknowledging his wife’s passing upon meeting with J would be helpful for him. She was there for him most of his life, and now that she’s gone his way of life is gone as well. I think talking about her and the adjustments needed because of her death would be a good way to go about it. Only by following his lead when talking about her though. If he wanted to be quieter about her I can understand it, and let him bring her up as he pleases, if he wishes to.

I think that people with disabilities can find ways around their disability to accomplish their goals. For example, if J wishes to write, then saving up to buy him the braille supplies could bring him much joy in his life, and the ability to read and write in his own way. I think it’s appropriate to ask people with disabilities if they need help, but let them manage themselves if they insist they can do the activity.

First of all, J ‘s financial situation should be addressed first. The cause of this is his wife’s passing, he no longer has an income. Perhaps it’s reasonable for him to live with his daughter. The next issue would be assistance for his blindness. Perhaps after he’s more financially stable he’d be willing to get and take care of a dog. The dog would bring him companionship and help. Finding a hobby for him would probably be next, perhaps there’s a way he can write. Lack of money and supplies may have prevented this dream from being realized. As I’ve mentioned before perhaps he can afford a braille machine in the future, or have someone write/type his words for him. Getting him involved in a support group for people with disabilities could also help him to become more social. The loss of his wife has left him lonely, so this could bring him some much needed friends.

Keywords: culture, native american, irish, disability, diversity

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