Christina M. Bobesky, Ph.D., Program Director

Students in a clinical graduate program like Mental Health Counseling spend a significant amount of time assessing personal biases. Introductory course assignments focus on family of origin and how one’s upbringing impacts their overall worldview. Taking a systems perspective, students begin to dissect the roles of family, community, cultural nuance, and sociopolitical issues and how these have shaped their perspectives.

In an analysis of cultural identity, students in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program at Cazenovia College were asked to formally document their heritage and values with additional attention to ritualism. Many students described their favorite holiday traditions and religious milestones. Others challenged their own beliefs about marriage, cohabitation, divorce and parenting. Some described dynamics of living in New York State. Others examined the hard truth of the privilege associated with their race.

Several indications of ritualism emerged. These included interactions in the community, symbols surrounding the family table and communication styles within the family. In such a way, students expressed dynamics in line with the construct of psychological sense of community (PSOC) and theory of symbolic interactionism.