Exploring School Counselor Multicultural Competence: A Multidimensional Concept

Article excerpt

Two hundred and nine members of the American School Counselor Association completed the Multicultural Counseling Competence and Training Survey-Revised (C. C. Holcomb-McCoy & J. E. Myers, 1999). A maximum likelihood factor analysis of the survey items was implemented, and 3 factors emerged: Multicultural Terminology, Multicultural Knowledge, and Multicultural Awareness. Implications for future research are discussed.


Multicultural competence has been referred to as a counselor's attitudes/beliefs, knowledge, and skills in working with ethnically and culturally diverse persons (Sue et al., 1998). Considering the increasingly diverse composition of school populations, the multicultural counseling competence of school counselors has received increasing attention in the counseling literature over the last decade (e.g., Carey, Reinat, & Fontes, 1990; Lee, 1995). School counselors' multicultural counseling competence has been linked to self-construals (Constantine & Yeh, 2001), student advocacy (Lee, 2001), and multicultural training (Holcomb-McCoy, 2001a).

Although several authors have delineated the components of multicultural counseling competence, there is no consensus on how to assess multicultural competence. Ponterotto, Rieger, Barrett, and Sparks (1994) reviewed four instruments designed to measure multicultural counseling competence: the Cross-Cultural Counseling Inventory-Revised (CCCI-R; LaFromboise, Coleman, & Hernandez, 1991); the Multicultural Counseling Awareness Scale-Form B, Revised Self-Assessment (MCAS-B; Ponterotto, Sanchez, & Magids, 1991); the Multicultural Counseling Inventory (MCI; Sodowsky, Taffe, Gutkin, & Wise, 1994); and the Multicultural Awareness-Knowledge-and-Skills Survey (MAKSS; D'Andrea, Daniels, & Heck, 1991). The CCCI-R is based on 11 cross-cultural counseling competencies that cover three general areas: cross-cultural counseling skill, sociopolitical awareness, and cultural sensitivity. It is a 20-item instrument with a 6-point Likert-type scale (1 = strongly disagree, 6 = strongly agree) used by supervisors in assessing counseling trainees' cross-cultural counseling competence. This instrument was developed on the basis of the cross-cultural competencies identified by the Education and Training Committee of Division 17 of the American Psychological Association (Sue et al., 1982). Scores from the CCCI-R are reported to have evidence of content, construct, and criterion-related validity (Sabnani & Ponterotto, 1992).

The MCAS-B measures multicultural knowledge/skills and awareness and is an abbreviated version of the 70-item MCAS. The MCAS-B is conceptually based on Sue et al.'s (1982) multicultural counseling competencies. The MCAS was initially developed from a general literature review, which focused on primarily select authors (Pope-Davis & Dings, 1995). Factor analysis findings of the MCAS-B have indicated a two-factor solution: Knowledge/Skill and Awareness. The MCAS-B has 45 items and uses a Likert-type scale that ranges from 1 (not at all true) to 7 (totally true); 10 items are reversed scored, and 3 are social desirability items.

Like the CCCI-R and the MCAS-B, the MCI is based on Sue et al.'s (1982) competencies and, similarly, has the following subscales: Multicultural Skills, Multicultural Awareness, Multicultural Counseling Knowledge, and Multicultural Counseling Relationship. The fourth subscale, Multicultural Counseling Relationship, refers to the aspects of the counselor's interpersonal processes with minority clients, including "counselor trustworthiness, comfort level, stereotypes of minority clients and worldview" (Sodowsky et al., 1994, p. 142). The MCI is a 40-item, 4-point Likert-type scale (1 = very inaccurate to 4 = very accurate) that is designed to "Operationalize some of the proposed constructs of multicultural counseling competencies" (Sodowsky et al., 1994, p. 139). Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and tests of factor congruence provided evidence of construct validity of scores (Pope-Davis & Dings, 1995; Sodowsky, 1996). …