Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Investigating School Counselors' Perceived Multicultural Competence

Academic journal article Professional School Counseling

Investigating School Counselors' Perceived Multicultural Competence

Article excerpt

This study examined the perceived multicultural counseling competence of 209 professional school counselors by using the Multicultural Counseling Competence and Training Survey--Revised (MCCTS-R; Holcomb-McCoy & Myers, 1999). Participants reported that they are at least somewhat competent on all of the multicultural competence domains of the MCCTS-R. In addition, the findings of this study suggested that participants" perceived multicultural counseling competence on the multicultural knowledge and terminology domains differed significantly based on whether they had taken an entry-level multicultural course.


Many variables concerning the multicultural counseling competence of professional counselors have been debated and discussed throughout the recent history of the counseling profession. Discussions related to the multicultural competence of professional counselors have included the development of multicultural competencies (e.g., Arredondo et al., 1996; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992), the content of multicultural counseling courses (e.g., D'Andrea & Daniels, 1991; Howard-Hamilton & Williams, 1993), the effect of multicultural training on trainees' multicultural competence (e.g., Allison, Crawford, Echemendia, Robinson, & Knepp, 1994; McRae & Johnson, 1991), and trainee characteristics that affect their level of multicultural counseling competence (e.g., Carter, 1990; Ottavi, Pope-Davis, & Dings, 1994).

In the general counseling literature, multicultural counseling competence has been described as having three domains: awareness, knowledge, and skills (Sue et al., 1982; 1998). The first domain, awareness, stresses a counselor's understanding of personal beliefs and attitudes and how counselors are the products of their own cultural conditioning. The second domain, knowledge, addresses the counselor's understanding of the worldviews of culturally different clients. And finally, the skill domain deals with the process of actively developing and practicing appropriate intervention strategies needed for work with culturally different clients. Coleman, Wampold, and Casali (1995) further asserted that multicultural counseling competence is one's ability to demonstrate to clients that their world, not just their psychological self, is understood. Other perspectives regarding multicultural counseling competence have included understanding the history, current needs, strengths, and resources of individuals (Pope-Davis, Reynolds, Dings, & Ottavi, 1994), and one's ability to acquire, develop, and use an accurate cultural schema (Ridley et al., 1994).

In addition to exploring the domains of multicultural counseling competence, counseling researchers also have examined variables or factors that might be related to one's acquisition of multicultural counseling competence. For instance, Ottavi et al. (1994) found that counselor trainees' White racial identity development, educational level, and clinical experiences correlated moderately with multicultural competence. Constantine (2002) found that racism attitudes and White racial identity attitudes together contributed to significant variance in self-perceived multicultural counseling competence. In particular, higher levels of racism were correlated with lower levels of self-reported multicultural counseling competence.

Gender also has been cited as a factor in an individual's level of multicultural counseling competence. For instance, Carter (1990) found that women were more comfortable with racial interactions and issues than were men. In a similar study, Pope-Davis and Ottavi (1994) reported that older students experienced greater discomfort with racial interactions and issues than did younger students. Finally, Sodowsky, Taffe, and Gutkin (1991) found that the amount of multicultural client contact was related to higher levels of self-reported multicultural competence for practicing counseling professionals. …

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