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My Definition of Cultural Humility


From my understanding, cultural humility means self-reflection and self-criticism for social workers. This helps them grow better at accepting different cultural backgrounds. It means knowing about different types of identities, how good clients handle cultures, and understanding their own culture. Social workers who respect different cultures learn, listen, and check their assumptions. Cultural humility makes social workers, and their clients tell the truth and respect each other by naturally asking questions, feeling for others, and responding to different cultures. This approach lets social workers examine, celebrate, and interact with clients’ histories and identities without bias.

Kirst-Ashman and Hull’s Textbook Description of Cultural Competence and its Similarities

My definition of cultural humility matches Kirst-Ashman and Hull’s definition of cultural competency. Cultural competency involves using social work skills with different cultures, according to Kirst-Ashman & Hull (2018). According to my definition, cultural humility encourages self-reflection and application-based learning. Both ideas emphasize understanding cultures, cultural diversity, and oppression’s effects on civilizations. Kirst-Ashman and Hull stress culturally relevant social worker practices, reflecting cultural humility’s idea that clients know their culture best. Both approaches promote learning and community participation by increasing cultural competency.

Skills for Social Worker Cultural Awareness

Cultural awareness in social work goes beyond understanding other cultures. Social workers must be active listeners to comprehend and sympathize with clients’ cultures (Azzopardi & McNeill, 2016). Additionally, practical communication skills enable simple expression and comprehension, aiding cross-cultural interactions. Social workers must also self-reflect to identify and resolve personal biases that may influence their views of different cultures. Cultural humility, unlike knowledge, requires ongoing education. Social workers must be humble enough to see clients as cultural experts and approach each situation with curiosity and openness. Moreover, social workers must understand nonverbal cues and body language to understand cultural communication with diverse linguistic expressions (Azzopardi & McNeill, 2016). Treatments and techniques must be tailored to each culture group’s requirements and values to be culturally aware.


Azzopardi, C., & McNeill, T. (2016). From Cultural Competence to Cultural Consciousness: Transitioning to a Critical Approach to Working Across Differences in Social Work. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 25(4), 282–299. to an external site.

Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2018). Empowerment series: Understanding generalist practice (8th ed.). CENGAGE Learning.


Professor Janella Melius

Hello, JR provide me with some examples of questions that may be a form of reflecting sensitivity to the growing multicultural population today?


Dr. Melius


STUDENT REPLY #1 Ebele Gloria Obi

Cultural humility continually examines one’s place in the power range, how it affects practice, attitudes toward clients, and how issues are framed and resolved (Azzopardi & McNeill, 2016). Cultural humility places a high importance on reflective thinking, transparency, and gaining knowledge of the cultures of others. It calls into question power disparities, promotes constant self-awareness, and modifies methods in response to client input and continuing education.

Cultural competence works well with people from different cultural origins by obtaining specific skills, knowledge, and attitudes. This idea is comparable to the definition of cultural competence given by Krist Ashman & Hull. Cultural competency is the capacity to use knowledge and abilities in social work practice with various clientele (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2018). However, cultural humility expands on the concept by highlighting the necessity of constant reflection and acknowledging the boundaries of one’s cultural understanding.

Self-reflection, flexibility, and continuing education are necessary for developing cultural awareness. Regularly assessing and addressing personal prejudices, beliefs, and cultural presumptions can help social workers become more aware of potential biases that may impact their client engagement. Social workers always engage in exercises to enhance their self-awareness by recognizing their prejudices and preconceptions (Alvarez-Hernandez & Choi, 2017). Secondly, flexibility and adaptability are crucial when interacting with diverse clientele, as cultural norms and communication preferences can change. Thirdly, social workers should participate in seminars and training sessions to enhance their understanding of cultural differences and concerns, promoting reflections and practical skill learning in various communities.


Alvarez-Hernandez, L. R., & Choi, Y. J. (2017). Reconceptualizing Culture in Social Work Practice and Education: A Dialectic and Uniqueness Awareness ApproachLinks to an external site. Journal Of Social Work Education, 53(3), 384-398. doi:10.1080/10437797.2016.1272511

Azzopardi, C., & McNeill, T. (2016). From cultural competence to cultural consciousness: Transitioning to a critical approach to working across differences in social work. Journal of Ethnic & Cultural Diversity in Social Work, 25(4), 282–299. to an external site.

Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2018). Empowerment series: Understanding generalist practice (8th ed.). CENGAGE Learning.

STUDENT REPLY #2 Jackin Louis

Cultural humility is fundamental to social work practice as it promotes ongoing self-reflection and a dedication to learning from experiences gained. It is an approach that acknowledges the ever-evolving nature of cultural comprehension, where social workers value their clients’ unique cultural experiences and continuously examine and adapt the power dynamics within these interactions. Fisher-Borne et al. (2015) highlight that this differs from cultural competence’s emphasis on amassing cultural knowledge. In contrast, cultural humility is a perpetual journey of learning (Kirst-Ashman & Hull, 2018).

Vital skills for social workers in this area include:

Engaging in reflective listening to fully understand clients’ perspectives and experiences.

Withholding judgment and avoiding assumptions based on one’s own cultural biases.

Advocating for relevant cultural resources that align with clients’ needs.

Dedicating oneself to continuous personal and professional evolution through training, education, and experiences.

An example could entail a social worker and a non-English-speaking family assisted by a bilingual interpreter. The family, with a teenager facing mental health challenges, receives culturally sensitive support. The interpreter aids in understanding cultural nuances, influencing the therapeutic approach. This ensures effective, respectful treatment, fostering trust and recognizing the family’s unique cultural identity.

The NASW Code of Ethics (2021) underscores the significance of these practices, promoting lifelong growth and advocating for social justice. By integrating cultural humility into daily practice, social workers adhere to ethical principles and effectively enhance their ability to support a diverse client base.


Fisher-Borne, M., Cain, J. M., & Martin, S. L. (2015). From mastery to accountability: Cultural humility as an alternative to cultural competence. Social Work Education, 34(2), 165–181. doi:10.1080/02615479.2014.977244

Kirst-Ashman, K. K., & Hull, G. H., Jr. (2018). Empowerment series: Understanding generalist practice (8th ed.). CENGAGE Learning.

National Association of Social Workers (NASW). (2021). National Association of Social Workers Code of Ethics.