Editorial: Some Initial Thoughts on a Heritage Based Behavioral Approach to the Counseling of Juvenile Delinquents.

Traditionally, and for good reason, the field of counseling has been dominated by multicultural approaches. Multicultural approaches focus on the internalization of multicultural principles. They observe levels of enculturation for a person in the culture of origin and use this assessment to understand unique features of the person’s pattern of responding. For behaviorists, the conditioning of these principles makes perfect sense and opens the counselor to explore how such values and beliefs are shaped by environmental forces (see Skinner, 1972). In this view, society (most importantly the family environment) establishes contingencies around behavior patterns of people to encultured them to behave in a certain way. For counselors such forces lead to the discussion of power, privilege, and contextual factors that impact the client’s life and way of living. For juvenile delinquents, this approach may not be additive to traditional approaches. Indeed, recent research in the area of juvenile delinquency suggests that cultural tailoring is not necessary for such programs (Wilson, Lipsey, & Soydan, 2003). In addition, some research exists that families may actively train children in antisocial rules (Snyder, McEachern, Schrepferman, Zettle, Johnson, Swink, & McAlpine, 2006) and thus the instillation of these values and rules might be counter productive for the overall adjustment in the current culture. Such findings suggest that maybe it is time to explore an alternative approach to delinquency. An alternative approach may allow for the creation of a dialectic through which an ebb and flow may allow counseling to meet the needs of greater number of clients. Thus, instead of starting with the culture of origin and determining enculturation, a logical counter point would be to start with the current culture and determine enculturation. In addition, this approach could establish goals of greater effective functioning in the current culture (e.g. teaching ways to recognize contingencies in place for the current culture and how to increase levels of reinforcement). For lack of a better term, this approach will be called a heritage-based approach.

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