An Analysis of Content and Instructional Strategies in Multicultural Counseling Courses

By Priester, Paul E.; Jones, Janice E. et al. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, January 2008 | Go to article overview

An Analysis of Content and Instructional Strategies in Multicultural Counseling Courses


Priester, Paul E., Jones, Janice E., Jackson-Bailey, Christina M., Jana-Masri, Asma, Jordan, Edgar X., Metz, A. J., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


The authors present a content analysis of syllabi from introductory multicultural counseling training (MCT) courses. Results suggest that these courses focus on knowledge of other cultural groups, emphasize the cultural identity exploration of the student at a lower level of training, and almost completely ignore the development of skills. The study revealed that MCT frequently includes groups beyond racial and ethnic minority groups. A broad range of instructional strategies are used, with a handful being used on a frequent basis.

Los autores presentan un analisis del contenido de planes de estudios empleados en cursos introductorios de formacion en consejeda multicultural (MCT, por sus siglas en ingles). Los resultados sugieren que estos cursos se centran en el conocimiento de otros grupos culturales, enfatizan la exploraciSn de la identidad cultural del alumno en los niveles iniciales de su formacion e ignoran casi por completo el desarrollo de habilidades. El estudio revelo que la MCT incluye con frecuencia grupos aparte de las minorias raciales y etnicas. Se utiliza una amplia gama de estrategias didacticas, un punado de las cuales se emplea frecuentemente.

Training for multicultural counseling competencies (MCCs) is mandated by the ACA Code of Ethics of the American Counseling Association (ACA; 2005) in Standard E 11.c., Multicultural/Diversity Competence (p. 16). Because the course syllabus is considered a learning contract between the instructor and the student, syllabi are an excellent source of information about what is being taught in multicultural counseling training (MCT) courses and how it is being taught. Content analysis of course syllabi is a technique that has been used to study a variety of counselor education issues: spirituality training (Cashwell & Young, 2004), clinical training of school counselors (Akos & Scarborough, 2004), and addictions training of rehabilitation counselors (Toloczko et al., 1998). Using syllabi as a source of data has the additional advantage that it will most likely result in a higher return rate than lengthy surveys, given the ease in sending an existing syllabus and the fact that syllabi are considered a public document.

In this article, we use a syllabus content analysis to capture a "snapshot" of introductory master's-level MCT courses taught in early 2000. This content analysis explores three issues within MCT: (a) the relative emphasis that is placed on the three subcomponents of the MCCs; (b) the extent to which cultural groups beyond the traditional four racial groups are included as explicit domains of study; and (c) identifying which MCT teaching techniques are used, as well as their relative frequency of use.

the MCCs

The MCCs comprise three subcomponents: (a) counselors' awareness of their own cultural and racial heritage and the extent to which they have benefited from the dynamics of oppression, (b) knowledge about the cultural norms and beliefs of other groups, and (c) ability to modify therapeutic skills or techniques in a culturally sensitive manner (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). A 1988 Delphi survey of MCT revealed that the focus is on the first two subcomponents. The survey predicted that within 10 years (i.e., by 1998), there would be a shift, with a 45% increase on the acquisition of skill development (Heath, Neimeyer, & Pedersen, 1988). The current study examines the extent to which each of the three subcomponents is emphasized in MCT.

traditionalist versus multiculturalist approach in training

There is a controversy among MCT educators regarding what content should be addressed in MCT courses. One camp, traditionalists, emphasizes that MCT must solely focus on the four traditional racial minority groups (i.e., African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans) and that to define multiculturalism in a broader manner dilutes a consciousness-raising focus on racism (Lentin, 2005). …

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