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Improving Cultural Competence

The development of culturally responsive clinical skills is vital to the effectiveness of behavioral health services. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), cultural competence “refers to the ability to honor and respect the beliefs, languages, interpersonal styles, and behaviors of individuals and families receiving services, as well as staff members who are providing such services. Cultural competence is a dynamic, ongoing developmental process that requires a long-term commitment and is achieved over time” (HHS 2003a, p. 12). It has also been called “a set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that . . . enable a system, agency, or group of professionals to work effectively in crosscultural situations” (Cross et al. 1989, p. 13).

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