The Effect of Ethnicity on Multicultural Competence

By Ivers, Nathaniel N. | Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research, Summer 2012 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Ethnicity on Multicultural Competence


Ivers, Nathaniel N., Journal of Professional Counseling, Practice, Theory, & Research


The contribution of ethnicity to counseling students' multicultural counseling competence (MCC) was revisited and expanded upon by examining differences among and between European American, African American, and Latino counseling students. Results revealed that Latino counseling students self-reported higher multicultural counseling competence than African American and European American counseling students. No difference in multicultural counseling competence was revealed between African American and European American counseling students. Implications for future research and multicultural training are discussed.

Keywords: multicultural counseling competence, ethnicity, diversity

The United States continues to become increasingly diverse. The latest U.S. Census Bureau (2010) data revealed a 9.7% increase in the overall U.S. population between 2000 and 2010. The majority of this growth has come from people who self-identify as a race other than White and from those who describe their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). These demographic shifts in the United States underscore the importance of effective multicultural counseling training. An important ingrethent in the development of effective multicultural counseling training is an understanding of factors that influence counselors' multicultural competence.

In 1982, Sue et al. called for helping professions to focus more specifically on crosscultural, or multicultural, factors that influence counseling and counseling relationships. The authors also proposed a framework for understanding multicultural counseling competence (MCC) called the tripartite model. In the tripartite model, MCC is conceptualized in terms of counselors' multicultural knowledge, beliefs and attitudes (self -awareness), and skills. Since 1982, the model has been expanded (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavîs, 1992; Sue et al., 1998) and operationalized (Arredondo et al., 1996). Nevertheless, the main dimensions of the model-knowledge, awareness, and skills-have remained.

In the 1992 model, Sue, Arredondo, and McDavis listed a total of 31 competencies counselors should possess to work effectively with diverse clients. The authors developed a 3x3 (characteristics [awareness of personal assumptions, values, and biases; understanding of worldview of culturally different clients; development of appropriate intervention strategies] ? dimensions [knowledge, beliefs and attitudes, and skills]) matrix to clarify elements they consider essential to multicultural competence. Multicultural knowledge includes counselors' understanding of their own worldview, knowledge of cultural groups with whom the counselor works, and recognition of sociopolitical factors that impact diverse clients' lives. Beliefs and attitudes encompass counselors' values associated with different cultural groups, their ability to recognize and hold in check stereotypes of different culture groups, a celebration of diversity, and an awareness of how their biases and negative attitudes can adversely influence counseling relationships. The skills dimension includes counselors' ability to interact appropriately and effectively with diverse clients as well as their ability to work to make systems and institutions more culturally sensitive.

The tripartite model has received empirical support (Worthîngton, SothMcNett, & Moreno, 2007; Ponterotto, Fuertes, & Chen, 2000). The majority of these empirical studies have used MCC self-report instruments to measure participants' selfperceived MCCs (Ponterotto, 2000; see Hays, 2008 for a review of these instruments). Using this method, researchers have discovered that MCC is influenced by many factors including, for example, multicultural training, racial identity development, racial attitudes, empathy, emotional intelligence, race, and ethnicity (Constantine, 2002; Constantine & Gainor, 2001 ; Ladany, Inman, Constantine, & Hofheinz, 1997; Ponterotto et al. …

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