Cross-Cultural Contact in Counseling Training

By Diaz-Lazaro, Carlos M.; Cohen, B. Beth | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Cross-Cultural Contact in Counseling Training


Diaz-Lazaro, Carlos M., Cohen, B. Beth, Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


Contacto intercultural en el entrenamiento de la consejeria

Cross-cultural contact was found to be important in the development of multicultural counseling competencies (MCCs). The greater the prior cross-cultural life experience, the higher were students' MCCs measured at the beginning of a multicultural counseling course. MCCs measured at the end of the course were significantly higher than MCCs measured at the beginning of the course. Theme analysis of students' journals suggested that cross-cultural contact, a major component of the course, was important in MCCs's development.

Este estudio explora la relacion entre el contacto intercultural y el desarrollo de competencias de consejeria multicultural en un curso basado en este entrenamiento. El contacto intercultural resulto ser importante en el desarrollo de las Competencias de Consejeria Multicultural (CCMs). Estudiantes con altos niveles de experiencias interculturales en sus vidas previas al curso, tuvieron altos resultados en las CCMs medidas al fin del curso. Las CCMs medidas al fin del curso fueron significativamente mas altas que las CCMs medidas al principle del curso. Analisis de los temas en los diarios de los estudiantes sugiere que el contacto intercultural, un componente principal de este curso, fue importante en el desarrollo de las CCMs.

Multicultural counseling has been referred to as the "fourth force" in counseling (Essandoh, 1996; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). The training of multiculturally competent counselors is strongly advocated by many scholars (e.g., LaFromboise, Coleman, & Hernandez, 1991; Ponterotto, Casas, Suzuki, & Alexander, 1995; Sue et al., 1992; Sue et al., 1982). Several surveys reveal that counseling and psychology graduate programs and internship sites are increasingly including multicultural issues in course work, research, and practica (e.g., Allison, Crawford, Echemendia, Robinson, & Knepp, 1994; Bernal & Padilla, 1982; Constantine, Ladany, Inman, & Ponterotto, 1996; Hills & Strozier, 1992; Murphy, Wright, & Bellamy, 1995; Phillips & Fisher, 1998; Ponterotto, Alexander, & Grieger, 1993; Wyatt & Parham, 1985). However, none of these surveys has directly assessed the role of cross-cultural contact, that is, person-to-person interactions between members of culturally different groups. Research on the development of multicultural counseling competencies has also neglected the relevance of cross-cultural contact. Studies in this area have focused mainly on validating the four instruments that have been developed for measuring the construct and correlating these instruments with demographic and educational variables (e.g., LaFromboise et al., 1991; Moss, 1997; Pope-Davis & Ottavi, 1994; Pope-Davis, Reynolds, Dings, & Nielson, 1995; Sodowsky, Taffe, Gutkin, & Wise, 1994).

Few studies have assessed the impact of cross-cultural contact experiences in the training of counselors, and only two studies have done so directly. Merta, Stringham, and Ponterotto (1988) developed a two-unit training exercise for graduate students in a special topics seminar course. The first unit, primarily cognitive, consisted of writing, discussion, and lecture about culture shock along with a brief cultural assimilator group exercise. The second unit of Merta et al.'s exercise involved direct cross-cultural contact by having trainees and members of the Arab culture role-play a critical incident scenario. Two months after this two-unit exercise, it was assessed by students rating each unit on a single Likert-scale item (1 = low to 5 = high) that inquired how valuable the unit was for increasing students' understanding of cultural awareness, culture shock, and cultural differences. Students rated the cross-cultural contact as more valuable than the cognitive component (4.31 vs. 4.00). Merta et al. concluded that "it is significant that, two months after the program, all the students not only reported that they remembered the experience but that they rated it so favorably" (p. …

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