“Y’all aren’t from around here”: Cultural Competence in Rural Practice Settings

10/25/2018 06:00 PM - 08:00 PM ET


Event Summary

Clinical social workers are generally aware of the importance of understanding and sensitivity to cultural issues relevant to our clients. One place this sometimes gets overlooked, but is particularly relevant to practitioners in Eastern KY, is in recognizing the cultural diversity of our clients from rural regions of the state. This is important because we may see clients (from rural areas of Eastern Kentucky, for example) who may live near enough to seek our care but who may live in a different world culturally due to a variety of factors including family culture, religion, ways poverty effects rural populations, etc. For example, is your client experiencing hallucinations? Or “seeing things” related to cultural beliefs / expectations about the presence of paranormal activity (i.e. “ghosts”)?

This presentation draws heavily on case studies and anecdotal examples from practice experience.

Rural culture in KY tends to follow traditional gender role stereotypes: Men are expected to work and provide for the family. A failure to do so, regardless of reason, denotes a failure or loss of masculinity.

Transportation: you can’t just “refer out” everything you are uncomfortable with. There is often no one else to refer to, and/or no one your clients can access. To practice in rural KY means being a “jack of all trades” as a practitioner. Don’t plan to practice in Eastern KY thinking you’re going to “specialize”.

Religion: clients in rural KY settings often hold traditional religious beliefs and values (i.e. heaven, hell, angels, demons, etc.) The client may perceive that their experience is due to the presence or influence of evil spirits, for example. What do we do with that?


Eric Cummings, MSW, LCSW, CCTP
Behavioral Health Therapist

Eric Cummings is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) and Certified Clinical Trauma Specialist (CCTP) working as a Behavioral Health Therapist for White House Clinics, a Federally Qualified Health Center operating nine clinics providing primary medical care, dental care, behavioral health, pharmacy, and patient support services to underserved populations in Madison, Estill, Jackson, Rockcastle, and Garrard Counties in Central/Eastern Kentucky.  In this role Eric provides outpatient behavioral health and substance abuse treatment integrated within the primary care setting, and serves as a practicum supervisor for MSW students in UK’s IBH program.  He is currently working to increase organizational awareness and effectiveness with regard to recognizing and treating the whole-person effects of traumatic stress on patient health.

Eric earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Eastern Kentucky University and his Master of Social Work from Asbury University, and has experience providing behavioral health and substance abuse treatment to individuals, families, and groups in inpatient, outpatient, and in-home/wraparound settings.  He is trained in treating traumatic stress and substance abuse, and is particularly interested in PTSD/traumatic stress, substance abuse treatment, military/veterans issues, men’s issues, and the intersection of mental health and faith/spirituality.  Eric is a husband and father who enjoys spending time with his wife and three children as well as playing guitar, fishing, reading US military history, and is active with the men’s ministry of his church.


Suzanne Hatton, MSW, CSW

Suzanne knows firsthand the unique culture of rural Kentucky, having grown up in Irvine, Kentucky—the same rural community in which Eric Cummings now practices. She received a B.A. in English from the University of Kentucky and worked 29 years as a Certified Human Resources Professional. She returned to U.K. to earn a BSW and worked as a Case Manager and Family Preservation Program Specialist with KVC Kentucky. Suzanne completed her MSW from UK and was awarded a $10K stipend to participate in UK’s Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) program, focusing on work with vulnerable and underserved individuals from children to seniors within a primary care health facility. Returning to her roots, she completed her advanced practicum at Whitehouse Clinic in Irvine, KY.


Speakers: Eric Cummings, LCSW, White House Clinics, and Suzanne Hatton, MSW
Location: Joseph Beth Booksellers, Bronte Bistro
DInner and socializing begins at 6 PM. Training starts at 6:30 PM.
CEU's: One Board-approved CEU awarded to participants

Registration is free for KSCSW members, $15 for non- members.
Space is limited! Register today!