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From this perspective, mental health professionals have seldom functioned in a culturally competent manner. Rather, they have functioned in a monoculturally competent manner with only a limited segment of the population (White Euro-Americans), but even that is debatable. Many of the current social work theories and concepts derive mainly from a monocultural Principles and Assumptions of Multicultural Social Work Practice 15 perspective. If we are honest with ourselves, we can only conclude that many of our standards of professional competence (Eurocentric) are derived primarily from the values, belief systems, cultural assumptions, and traditions of the larger society.

Murphy had just finished an analysis of a case study on a Latino family in which the 32-year-old daughter was still living at home and could not obtain her father’s approval for her upcoming marriage. The caseworker’s report suggested excessive dependency as well as “pathological enmeshment” on the part of the daughter. As more and more minority students entered the program and took Dr. Murphy’s classes on social work and family therapy, this sort of question began to be asked more frequently and usually in a challenging manner.

S. society has become progressively conservative and that social work reflects this change as well. When social workers unwittingly impose monocultural standards without regard for differences in race, culture, gender, and sexual orientation, they may be engaging in cultural oppression (NASW, 2001; Neville, Worthington, & Spanierman, 2001). As a result, social work practice may become a sociopolitical act. Indeed, a major thesis of this book is that traditional social service work has unwittingly done great harm to culturally diverse groups by invalidating their life experiences, by defining their cultural values or differences as deviant and pathological, by denying them culturally appropriate care, and by imposing the values of a dominant culture upon them.

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