Counseling in diversity: Visiting scholar Dr. Jazimin Jusoh brings multicultural approach to IU Southeast

26th October 2015

By Steven Krolak

The IU Southeast Common Experience is pleased to welcome Dr. Ahmad Jazimin Jusoh for two lectures. Dr. Jazimin Jusoh is associate professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling, Faculty of Education and Human Development at Sultan Idris Education University (UPSI) in Perak, Malaysia. He is certified in choice theory and reality therapy since 2008, and his talk will focus on the use of these approaches, developed by the American psychologist William Glasser in the 1960s, in the multi-ethnic and multi-religious country of Malaysia. Dr. Jazimin Jushoh spoke with academic information officer, Steven Krolak.

What current trends in Malaysian society are of interest to counselors and counselor educators?

In the last 15 years, counseling services and the counselor profession itself have become familiar features of Malaysian society. The most visible representatives are guidance and counseling teachers in schools and those counselors who are working in government settings, such as the Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, or in the private sector. However, it is still not common for Malaysians to consult a counselor for problems in their personal lives. Based on previous research, many believed that counseling services were only useful for addressing problems. They weren’t informed about the benefits of counseling for prevention, growth, rehabilitation and intervention. But now, people are increasingly willing to take advantage of counseling services. As a result, counselor Education has become a popular choice for undergraduate, graduate and doctoral students – in fact there are now 12 universities offering counseling programs. It has happened because people have started to realize the importance of counselor’s role in contributing to social well-being in a developing country such as Malaysia.

What are the main characteristics of choice theory and reality therapy (CTRT)? What do you find especially useful about CTRT?

Choice theory explains why and how we make the choices that drive our lives. All of our behaviors are seen as the result of choices we make as we continually strive to meet one or more of our five basic needs (love and belonging, power, fun, freedom, survival). Reality therapy focuses on the client’s present behavior and the capability of that behavior to help her or him achieve her or his goals. These are positive approaches for a wide range of clients and counselors, including parents, teachers and managers. Since the focus is on what clients are willing to do in the present, these approaches are very action-oriented, and provide an opportunity for individuals to accept personal responsibility, gain effective control and take charge of their lives.

What can the work of counselor educators in Malaysia tell us about the role of counseling in culturally diverse settings?

Counselors must be aware of any cultural elements that may interfere with their clients’ growth. Counselors who are skillful enough can turn cultural tension into opportunities that can help clients overcome their issues and become more liberated people. Also, counselors should improve their content knowledge and counseling skills through life-long learning. In my opinion, counselors must understand their clients’ problems within the theoretical framework of a culturally diverse setting. Since Malaysia is a multicultural country, counselors should handle sessions based on the cultural context and traditions — the counselor should know the client’s belief system and culture itself, specifically. This appreciation for diversity also applies to school types: there are national, religious, boarding, vocational and private schools in Malaysia. These are each unique contexts. A school counselor should become versatile, with cultural knowledge, skills and awareness.

Dr. Jazimin Jusoh will speak on “Community building among youth in Malaysia: the use of choice theory and reality therapy in education,” on Wed., Oct. 29, from 12:20 to 1:15 p.m. and from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the IU Southeast Library, third floor. For more information please contact Dr. Cliff Staten of The Common Experience at cstaten@ius.edu or Dr. Shifa Podikunju-Hussain at spodikun@ius.edu.

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