Racial Sensitivity and Multicultural Training

Racial Sensitivity and Multicultural Training

Racial Sensitivity and Multicultural Training

Racial Sensitivity and Multicultural Training


Spotlights inappropriate psychological models imposed on members of nondominant groups, leading to what is deemed oppression in the mental health field.


Paul Pedersen

We can perhaps learn more from our mistakes than we can from our success. At least, that is the premise of this well documented book. the book was written in and about South Africa with 11 official languages, but the insights and findings go far beyond any particular geographic setting in their profound implications for democratizing psychology on a global scale. Strous documents in detail the connections between psychology and the apartheid-style psychology imposed on the portion of South Africa’s population who were Black or Colored. South Africa provides a prime example of why multicultural competency is essential in any society.

All societies are multicultural with the uneven distribution of power across defined groups within those societies. All societies are experiencing rapid social change and transition to meet the needs and demands of culturally defined groups within each society. This transition from discrimination toward cultural sensitivity has profound implications for the field of psychology. Strous is careful to document how profoundly apartheid shaped the theory and practice of psychology in South Africa, where “multicultural” differences in society were actually used to defend discrimination in favor of Whites even though South Africa’s 77 percent Black population represents an overwhelming numerical majority. the consequences of White superiority were clearly destructive to all sectors of South African society and these “mistakes” are documented in detail.

Strous advocates a “balanced” alternative to the practice of applied psychology and therapy. This balance acknowledges the mistakes and builds toward positive alternatives much as the policy of “reconciliation” in South Africa has rejected the goals of revenge and advocated a more positive alternative. Issues of Human Rights and the democratization of psychology takes a post-modern constructivist perspective toward the practice of psychology that highlights the importance of multicultural competencies and training mental health care providers to be more sensitive to both cultural similarities and differences.

Strous’s own research on the training of therapists was based on the Triad Training Model where a counselor, coached-client, pro-counselor and anticounselor interact in a role played interview to articulate the positive and negative internal dialogue of the counselor and coached-client. We can only learn from our mistakes if we know that we have just made a mistake. the balance of immediate and continuous positive and negative feedback from a pro and anti perspective guides the therapist . . .

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