The multicultural counseling movement is clearly transforming the thinking and practices of many counselor educators, practitioners, researchers, and students in training. As several authors have noted in this special issue, the evolution of this movement has been characterized by numerous challenges that have moved the multicultural counseling paradigm from its infancy to a more mature stage in its development (Arredondo, Tovar-Blank, & Parham, 2008).
After almost 40 years of scholarly work, multicultural theorists have greatly extended counselors' thinking about the impact that racial/ethnic/cultural factors have on counseling endeavors aimed at stimulating healthy human development. What follows is a brief overview of some of the key ways that these theorists have extended the epistemological base that counselors use to think about and implement helping strategies in racially and culturally diverse settings.
First, one of the most significant and fundamental ways that the multicultural counseling movement has affected and continues to affect the counseling profession is by describing the between-groups differences that are commonly manifested among persons in diverse racial/ethnic/cultural groups. These differences include the ways that people in diverse groups construct meaning of such concepts as human development, mental health, psychological maturity, and appropriate psychological helping interventions (Ivey, D'Andrea, Ivey, & Simek-Morgan, 2007; D. W. Sue & Sue, 2003). By drawing from culturally different cosmological perspectives, multicultural counseling theorists have enabled counselors to broaden their understanding of these and related concepts in ways that extend far beyond the culturally encapsulated constructions of such concepts that have dominated the profession in the past (Wrenn, 1962, 1985).
Second, in addition to illuminating these between-groups differences, multicultural counseling theorists have described the within-group psychological differences that are routinely manifested among persons in the same racial/cultural groups as well. Advancements in racial/cultural identity development theories greatly enhanced counselors' understanding of the different ways individuals in the same groups develop psychologically (Cross, 1971, 1991; Helms, 1990, 1995; D. W. Sue & Sue, 2003).
Third, counselors' knowledge of both between-group and within-group differences has been aided further by the introduction of additional theoretical models that highlight the multidimensionality of human development. This advancement is reflected in the development of the Dimensions of Personal Identity model (Arredondo & Glauner, 1992; Arredondo et al., 2008) and the RESPECTFUL (R = religious/spiritual issues, E = economic class issues, S = sexual identity issues, P = psychological developmental issues, E = ethnic/racial identity issues, C = chronological issues, T = trauma and threats to well-being, F = family issues, U = unique physical issues, L = language and location of residence issues) counseling framework (D'Andrea & Daniels, 2001).
A final major theoretical contribution relates to the knowledge that has emerged regarding the new professional competencies counselors need to acquire to work effectively and ethically in a culturally diverse society (Arredondo et al., 2008). The formal endorsement of the Multicultural Counseling Competencies (D. W. Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992) by the American Counseling Association (ACA) and of the multicultural guidelines by the American Psychological Association as well as the infusion of numerous multicultural counseling competency concepts into the 2005 ACA Code of Ethics highlight the importance of becoming a culturally competent counseling professional in today's world (Pack-Brown, Thomas, & Seymour, 2008).
Although all of these theoretical contributions have greatly expanded the counseling profession's knowledge base, it is equally important to understand what researchers have to say about the impact this movement has had on the effective implementation of counseling theories with culturally diverse clients. …