Skills for Cultural Competency

When applying the five steps of SAMHSA's Strategic Prevention Framework (SPF), culturally competent prevention professionals are able to do the following:

Assess Needs

  • Accurately assess the influence of their own values, perceptions, opinions, knowledge, and social position on their interactions with others
  • Provide and promote an atmosphere in which similarities and differences can be explored, and understand that this process is not only cognitive but attitudinal and affective, as well

Build Capacity

  • Learn to be an ally to groups that experience prejudice and discrimination in the community, as well as help others learn to be an ally to their own cultural groups
  • Help expand other people’s knowledge of their culture, and affirm and legitimize other people’s cultural perspectives


  • Learn to embrace new, ambiguous, and unpredictable situations, and be persistent in keeping communication lines open when misunderstandings arise
  • Encourage community members to see themselves in a multicultural perspective, and encourage skills-building in cross-cultural interactions and communication


  • Encourage and accommodate a variety of learning and participation styles, building on community members’ strengths
  • Draw upon the experiences of participants or collaborators to include diverse perspectives in any given intervention


  • Be skeptical about the validity of diagnostic tools applied to people who are culturally different from those upon whom the norms were based
  • Understand, believe, and convey that there are no culturally deprived or culturally neutral individuals or groups, and that all cultures have their own integrity, validity, and coherence, and deserve respect
Last Updated: 03/15/2016