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with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Cultural Competence: A Necessary Training for Human Service Professionals

Cultural Competence Training

Cultural competence is an extremely important aspect of the work that any human service professional does. This includes for those who provide applied behavior analysis services.

It is important to obtain training in cultural competence for anyone who is working with other people.

To do this, you may want to seek out recommendations from colleagues, supervisors, or other professionals.

What Does Cultural Competence Training Provide?

Cultural competence training provides service providers with more knowledge and skills in the area of understanding diversity, cultural differences, and cultural norms for various groups as well as how these concepts might apply on an individual level.

Practitioners will learn about some general characteristics of a variety of cultures as well as how to be considerate of individual cultural experiences as it is important not to generalize or assume that someone will connect with any particular cultural idea or norm. It’s important not to fall into the use of stereotypes as everyone is unique.

Practitioners will also learn how to better communicate with others, how to understand and address potential barriers to service, and how to be more culturally sensitive within the workplace and within the services they provide.

Cultural competence training can also help a service provider to better understand their own experience which can then help them become a better service provider. The training can help them to become more aware of their own cultural beliefs and culturally-related behaviors as well as any potential power imbalances, privilege, or biases they may hold. (1)

Support for Cultural Competence Training

Cultural competence training has been found, in the research, to increase the skills, knowledge, and understanding that service providers have of various cultures so that they can better serve people of diverse cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Research has also found that service providers who have completed cultural competence training tend to be more preferred by clients. Successfully completing a cultural competence training can increase client satisfaction of services. (1,2)

Example Cultural Competence Training

One cultural competence training can be completed for free through the Department of Health and Human Services.

The course from DHHS aims to meet the following objects (as listed on their site):

  • Describe how culture, cultural identity, and intersectionality are related to behavioral health and behavioral health care.
  • Describe the principles of cultural competency and cultural humility.
  • Discuss how our bias, power, and privilege can affect the therapeutic relationship.
  • Discuss ways to learn more about a client’s cultural identity.
  • Describe how stereotypes and microaggressions can affect the therapeutic relationship.
  • Explain how culture and stigma can influence help-seeking behaviors.
  • Describe how communication styles can differ across cultures.
  • Identify strategies to reduce bias during assessment and diagnosis.
  • Explain how to elicit a client’s explanatory model.

There are many other cultural competency trainings available.

Important Note

It is important to note that taking a one hour or even a couple-hour training will not make someone completely knowledgeable and skillful at understanding and working with all cultures and culture-related issues. However, obtaining introductory training is a good place to start.

Please share any high quality trainings or resources in the area of cultural competence in the comments.


(1) Cultural competence training for health care professionals. (Jan 27, 2020). Retrieved 6/11/2020 from

(2) Govere L, Govere EM. How effective is cultural competence training of healthcare providers on improving patient satisfaction of minority groups? A systematic review of literature. Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing. 2016;13(6):402-410

*View the first reference for an extensive list of research to support the information in this article.*

Cultural Competence: A Necessary Training for Human Service Professionals

Heather Gilmore, MSW, BCBA

Heather is a freelance writer, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), and social worker. Heather takes interest in topics related to parenting, children, families, personal development, health and wellness, applied behavior analysis, as well as Autism, ADHD, Depression and Anxiety. Contact Heather if you would like to inquire about obtaining her freelance writing services. You can view more articles and resources from Heather at and email her at [email protected] You can also advertise your autism services at one of Heather's websites: Heather is the developer of the "One-Year ABA Parent Training Curriculum."


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APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2020). Cultural Competence: A Necessary Training for Human Service Professionals. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 18, 2020, from