Identity Development and Multicultural Competency

Article excerpt

This study investigated the relationship of identity development, measured by the Self-identity Inventory (SII), and universal-diverse orientation (UDO) to multicultural counseling competence. After controlling for personal identity variables, multicultural coursework and training, and social desirability, multiple regression analyses indicated SII and UDO accounted for significant additional variance in multicultural competency.


Sensitivity to cultural, individual differences and diversity are prominently recognized within psychology and counseling as essential to professional practice. Professional models and conceptualizations of multicultural competencies have recognized that different dimensions of personal identity may be related to multicultural counseling competence. In operationalizing the multicultural competencies Arredondo et al. (1996) used the Personal Dimensions of Identity (PDI) model as a frame of reference for examining the intersection of multicultural group identity and other dimensions of human diversity. Arredondo et al. observed that the PDI model highlighted different identity-based affiliations and complemented the discussion of multiculturalism. Sue (2001) presented a multidimensional model of cultural competence (MDCC) and discussed a tripartite framework for exploring and understanding the formation of personal identity that included universal, group, and individual levels of personal identity.

Group levels of identity noted by Sue (2001) essentially correspond to the A and B Dimensions of the Personal Dimensions of Identity model discussed by Arredondo et al. (1996). These include gender, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, age, marital status, geographic location, religious preference, ethnicity, culture, and disability. In presenting this model Sue emphasized the importance of race but he also noted that there is a need to acknowledge other group identities related to culture, ethnicity, social class, gender and sexual orientation. Sue (2001) noted that such group membership may create shared experiences and may be very influential in the development of worldviews. Individuals may be members of more than one cultural or identity group and some group identities may be more salient than others.

Research on the relationship between racial identity development and multicultural counseling competence has suggested a relationship between racial identity development and multicultural counseling competence (Constantine, Juby, & Liang, 2001; Neville et al., 1996; Ottavi, Pope-Davis, & Dings, 1994; Vinson & Neimeyer, 2000). To date, most of the research on identity development and multiculturalism has focused on relationships between specific individual dimensions of identity, identity development and multicultural competency. This in part seems to relate to the fact that measurement efforts in the area of identity development and multiculturalism have tended to focus on specific identity dimensions. Recently, two measures have been developed that may contribute to research on multiculturalism and may be relevant to an integrated multidimensional and tripartite framework of individual, group and universal levels for understanding personal identity. Sevig, Highlen, and Adams (2000) have published initial research on the Self-Identity Inventory (SII), a multicultural identity development measure, and Miville et al. (1999) have reported initial work on the Miville-Guzman Universality-Diversity Scale (M-GUDS).

Sevig et al. (2000) developed the SII based on the Optimal Theory Applied to Identity Development (OTAID) model (Myers et al., 1991). Meyers et al. (1991) used optimal theory to propose a new identity development model that offers a pluralistic framework applicable to different cultural and identity groups, e.g. race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, age, religion, and disability status. Within the OTAID model a holistic view of life is assumed, spirit and matter are seen as unified, and people are viewed as having inherent value. …