To improve mental health services and outcomes in northern New Jersey by enhancing the cultural competence of mental health professionals and their organizations.
Culture Connections is managed by Family Connections, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) community-based mental health, substance abuse and family service agency with over 35 specialized programs for all ages from infants to seniors. Licensed by New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Department of Children and Families, Family Connections delivers research-based therapeutic services in our offices and on-site in preschools, schools, and directly in the home.
Culture Connections’ approach to cultural competence has evolved from Family Connections own journey toward cultural competence, which began in 2006 with the formation of our Cultural Competence Committee (CCC). As part of the Agency’s Quality Assurance Program, the CCC grew out of our staff’s desire to improve cultural awareness and sensitivity for both staff and consumers. Since then, Family Connections has maintained a committed effort to promote cultural competence in all aspects of the agency, based on the following:
- Culture is defined broadly and not limited to race and ethnicity. When we use the word “culture”, we are including age, race, ethnicity, language, religious beliefs, ability, socioeconomic status, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
- It is important to learn about various cultures but not to restrict ourselves to the categorical and stereotypical knowledge we may gain from our eagerness to learn. In working with individuals, it is important to gain insight into their worldview. Worldview is defined by Merriam Webster as the way someone thinks about the world and by Free Dictionary.com as a collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group. It is the intersection of all of the cultural aspects of an individual that shapes that individual’s worldview. Cultural competence is a cornerstone of client and family-centered service delivery.
- Many people think that cultural competence means learning about others. We believe that cultural competence means learning, first and foremost, about ourselves. Without an understanding of our own culture and worldview, we cannot effectively learn about and connect with others.
- Cultural competence in mental health services involves respecting and effectively engaging individuals from all backgrounds while fostering empowerment.
- Successfully integrating cultural competence into an agency’s culture is best achieved by incorporating it into an organization’s existing infrastructure (under Quality Assurance, for example) or creating a new cultural competence-specific infrastructure which formalizes cultural competence activities planning, reporting, and accountability.
- Support from the top of an organization is critical to improving an organization’s cultural competence.
- Once support from the top is secured, staff at all levels of an organization need to be engaged and to recognize the role that cultural competence can potentially play in improving outcomes and overall quality of care.
- Getting staff buy in works best when cultural competence learning experiences are varied, interactive, and fun!
- To ensure that staff embraces a cultural competence program, it is important that all training and activities are conducted in a safe, incremental, and thoughtful way, taking into consideration that culture can be a complex and sensitive topic.
Konniesha M. Moulton is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and currently a Director of Programs for Family Connections, and oversees the Culture Connections Program. She has more than 10 years of experience working with the child welfare system and the children system of care; including roles in in-home therapeutic treatment, out of home placement facilities, juvenile justice and community resource agencies. Not only has she worked within these capacities, she has created new program initiatives to support ongoing support for families and children within the community.
Konniesha Moulton has been trained in various trauma informed/promising practices models, including Attachment Self-Regulation and Competence (ARC), ARC GROW, Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) , Sensory Motor Arousal Regulation Treatment (SMART, Motivational Interviewing and the Integrative Treatment of Complex Trauma for Adolescents (ITCT-A). Konniesha Moulton’s passion towards trauma informed care, extends to supporting culturally inclusive policies and practices. She believes in providing education and best practices to clinicians and paraprofessionals about working with individuals impacted by trauma and always with a culturally informed lens.
Jayme S. Ganey is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and currently a Program Manager for Family Connections’ Culture Connections, co-chair for the agency’s Cultural Competency Committee and a member of New Jersey’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services’ Multicultural Services Advisory Committee. She has more than more than 7 years of experience in program development and service provision in both adult mental health services and the children’s system of care including caregiver support services, in-home and in-community therapeutic assessment and case management services, and community support services. Additionally, Jayme has 16 years of experience as a trainer and speaker, with over 7 years spent creating programming and training clinicians, organizational leaders, peer counselors and community members in advocacy, cultural competency, crisis intervention, Mental Health First Aid, and trauma informed care.
Jayme S. Ganey has been trained Mental Health First Aid, Motivational Interviewing, Attachment Self-Regulation and Competence (ARC), Nurtured Heart Approach. Additionally, Jayme has displayed her passion for cultural competency and inclusion, health advocacy and promotion of self-care in writing articles in multiple publications, two of which won National Association of Black Journalism Awards. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Montclair State University, and a Bachelor’s degree in Magazine Journalism and Sociology from Syracuse University.