Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Multicultural Environments of Academic versus Internship Training Programs: Lessons to Be Learned

Academic journal article Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development

Multicultural Environments of Academic versus Internship Training Programs: Lessons to Be Learned

Article excerpt

Psychology training programs have a responsibility to train multiculturally competent psychologists. Predoctoral interns were surveyed to compare the multicultural environment of academic and internship programs. Internship programs were perceived as more multicultural than were academic programs. Factors contributing to differences are examined, and suggestions are made for improving multicultural environments in training.

Los programas de formacion en psicologia tienen la responsabilidad de former psicologos competentes multiculturalmente. Se entrevisto a interinos predoctorales para comparar el ambiente multicultural de sus programas academicos y de interinidad. Se percibio que los programas de interinidad eran mas multiculturales que los programas academicos. Se examinan los factores que contribuyen a estas diferencias, y se ofrecen sugerencias para mejorar los ambientes multiculturales en la formacion.


Multicultural researchers have outlined three areas related to multicultural competencies: beliefs/attitudes, knowledge, and skills (Sue et al., 1982). This seminal work was later updated, suggesting the importance of the counselor's own cultural values and biases, the client's worldview, and culturally appropriate intervention strategies (Arredondo et al., 1996; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). Multicultural competency plays an integral role in providing effective services for clients. For instance, client attrition, utilization, and satisfaction rates are influenced by a therapist's multicultural competency (e.g., Constantine, 2001; Lefley & Bestman, 1991). According to Sue and Sue (1999), "one of the major reasons for therapeutic ineffectiveness with clients of color lies in the training of mental health professionals" (p. 11). Research has clearly indicated that training programs should include a strong focus on increasing multicultural competencies (Roysircar, Arredondo, Fuertes, Ponterotto, & Toporek, 2003).

Many researchers believe that future therapists' multicultural competencies are influenced by the multicultural environment of their training programs (e.g., see Gloria & Pope-Davis, 1997; Ponterotto, 1996; Sue, 2001). Gloria and Pope-Davis (1997) indicated that the daily practices of training programs convey behaviors and attitudes that contribute to a multicultural learning environment. This learning environment, in turn, either contradicts or reinforces the training program's commitment to multiculturalism. Furthermore, this learning environment either enhances or detracts from students' multicultural training. Infusing multicultural and culture-specific knowledge into the training environment is an essential component in developing culturally sensitive clinicians. Recommendations have been made for improving multicultural training, research, practice, and organizational development (e.g., American Psychological Association [APA], 2003; Pope-Davis, Liu, Nevitt, & Toporek, 2000).

It is clear that a multicultural environment is crucial to the development of mnlticulturally competent counselors. Unfortunately, researchers have not yet examined similarities and differences between the two main environments of doctoral-level training: academic and predoctoral internship programs. Assessing the multicultural environments of academic and internship training programs is important, considering that they differ in the type, breadth, and purpose of training. Academic training programs have the overarching charge of introducing students to broad areas of learning: conducting and interpreting research, analyzing theory and practice, assessment, psychopathology, individual and social bases of behavior, human diversity, teaching, experience, and providing supervised clinical services (see Norcross, Sayette, & Mayne, 2008). This broad acquisition of knowledge differs from predoctoral internship training programs that have the specific charge of preparing trainees to deliver a range of clinical services (Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers [APPIC], 2006). …

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