Vital Changes

Affirming Diversity Counseling

Our work in psychological research and personal growth has focused on the need for affirming our differences in ways that create the feeling of real value and personal power. This need is crucial today. We live in a world that can feel unsafe because of our gender, sexuality, faith tradition, race, color, language, or national origin. These harmful attitudes and practices create emotional and mental pain and can be experienced in the intimacy of home and family as well as in the larger work and political world.

Our commitment is to offer a sanctuary for exploring needs and bringing growth for all members of our community. This is an expression of my professional ability as a multicultural counselor and of my personal belief in the power of love and justice.

David McFarlane has dedicated the last ten years to developing affirming counseling for the diversity in the community. This meant that I took my basic spiritual conviction in the goodness of each person and asked how counseling and spirituality can more fully affirm each person. This learning commitment came from my discouragement when I saw how my work with churches who proclaimed that our mission is love but then we are derogatory toward those outside the norm and in a different faith tradition. This led me to focus my graduate school studies in social science research, a personal process of growing self-awareness, and finally my doctoral dissertation on the needs of sexual minority clients in counseling. I have taught counseling students in graduate school programs about working effectively with diversity and I practice these approaches with my clients in my practice and throughout the Vital Changes clinic.