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Strategies for Working With Multicultural Training Groups

Considering Power Differentials

In training groups where participants might come from diverse backgrounds or positions of power, be alert for ways that power imbalances might affect the training.

For example, if you are training a group of health professionals, some may be supervisors of others in the room. The supervisee might feel awkward about sharing certain feelings or revealing a lack of skill or knowledge related to the topic with his or her supervisor in the room. Likewise, patients may feel awkward discussing health care concerns if their nurse, physician or social worker is in the same audience.

Some tips for dealing with power differentials within an audience include:

  • Acknowledge that the situation exists.
  • Emphasize that each person’s unique perspective and experiences is equally valued and refer to other ground rules that address issues such as these.
  • Avoid participant introductions that emphasize academic degrees or professional status. Instead ask people to describe their connection to the topic.