Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Relationship between Mindfulness and Multicultural Counseling Competence

Academic journal article Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD

The Relationship between Mindfulness and Multicultural Counseling Competence

Article excerpt

The United States is becoming increasingly culturally diverse--racially, ethnically, and linguistically (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010). Projections indicate that, in the next half century, the United States will be a "plurality nation," meaning no one racial or ethnic group will be in the majority (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012). As the United States continues to diversify, it is incumbent on counselor educators and researchers to realize new and effective methods of training culturally competent counselors. Factors at the core of multicultural competence must be identified to foster multicultural sensitivity with intentionality.

Mindfulness, with its emphasis on acceptance and attentive observation of one's experience (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006; Baer et al., 2008), may be an important element underlying multicultural competence. The overarching aim of the present study was to examine the association between multicultural counseling competence (MCC) and mindfulness. Researchers have investigated the relationship between mindfulness and correlates of MCC, such as empathy (Fulton, 2012; Greason & Cashwell, 2009) and response flexibility (Teper, Segal, & Inzlicht, 2013); however, they have not directly examined the relationship between mindfulness and MCC. In this article, we first summarize the literature on multicultural competence, mindfulness, and their correlates. Second, we describe the study, which involves examining the relationship between mindfulness factors and multicultural competence. Finally, we present the method, study design, and findings, including implications for counselors and counselor educators.


MCC refers to the effectiveness with which a counselor provides counseling services to clients whose cultural worldviews and cultural group affiliations differ from those of the counselor (Arredondo et al., 1996; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992). Sue et al. (1982) proposed a widely accepted model of MCC called the Tripartite Model of Cross-Cultural Competence, wherein MCC was conceptualized in terms of multicultural knowledge, beliefs and attitudes (awareness), and skills. Multicultural knowledge pertains to seeking information about different cultures to inform one's counseling (Ivey, Ivey, & Zalaquett, 2014; Sue et al., 1992). Multicultural awareness refers to counselors' recognition of the impact of culture on their lives as well as those of their clients. The skills domain relates to the counselor's ability to "meet clients where they are" culturally through selecting and implementing approaches that take into consideration the unique cultural background of each client (Ivey et al., 2014; Sue et al., 1992).

Researchers have analyzed MCC in relation to factors that conceptually link to MCC, including the following constructs; sex (Mindrup, Spray, & Lamberghini-West, 2011), racial identity attitudes (Chao, 2012; Constantine, 2002), racism attitudes (Constantine, 2002), cultural immersion activities (McDowell, Goessling, & Melendez, 2012), feelings of social inadequacy (Sodowsky, Kuo-Jackson, Richardson, & Corey, 1998), locus of control variables (Sodowsky et al., 1998), race/ethnicity (Constantine, 2001b; Ivers, 2012; Sodowsky et al., 1998), emotional intelligence (Constantine & Gainor, 2001), empathy (Constantine, 2001a), bilingualism (Ivers, Ivers, & Duffey, 2013), and mortality salience (Ivers & Myers, 2011). Collectively, these findings support the idea that MCC is a multifaceted construct.

Empathy, a core construct associated with successful counseling, is related to both MCC (Constantine, 2000, 2001a) and mindfulness (Fulton, 2012; Greason & Cashwell, 2009). Constantine (2001a) suggested that counselors with a greater capacity for empathy would conceptualize clients from a multicultural perspective more accurately because of an increased ability to take the perspective of other people and foster empathic concern for them. …

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