Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Examining the Relationships between Multicultural Counseling Competence, Multicultural Self-Efficacy, and Ethnic Identity Development of Practicing Counselors

Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Examining the Relationships between Multicultural Counseling Competence, Multicultural Self-Efficacy, and Ethnic Identity Development of Practicing Counselors

Article excerpt

The United States is increasing in diversity; thus, professional counselors need to be culturally knowledgeable and sensitive to diverse clients. As of 2016, approximately 323 million individuals resided in the United States, with White individuals representing 76.9% of the total population, followed by Hispanic/Latino (17.6%), African American (13.3%), Asian (5.6%), biracial (2.6%), and American Indian/Alaska Native (1.2%) individuals (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016). By the year 2060, it is projected that the Hispanic/Latino population will make up 28.6% of the total population, followed by African American (17.9%), Asian (11.7%), biracial (6.2%), and American Indian/Alaska Native (2.4%) individuals (Colby & Ortman, 2014). Given these statistics, it is inevitable that differences in worldview, values, and beliefs will be present between counselors and clients. Therefore, it is crucial for professional counselors to be nonjudgmental and broach cultural issues relevant to the client (e.g., race, gender, sexuality) with empathy and credibility, which contributes to a positive therapeutic relationship (Day-Vines et al., 2007; Ibrahim & Heuer, 2016). It is imperative for counselors to be self-aware, possess cultural knowledge, utilize culturally appropriate skills with clients, and avoid imparting their own beliefs in the therapeutic relationship (American Counseling Association [ACA] Code of Ethics, 2014; Ratts et al., 2015).

Within the field of counseling and counselor education, there is extensive research on multicultural counseling competence (MCC) in counselor trainees (e.g., Hill, Vereen, McNeal, & Stotesbury, 2013; Hipolito-Delgado, Cook, Avrus, & Bonham, 2011; Holcomb-McCoy & Myers, 1999; Prosek & Michel, 2016). For instance, research has focused on increasing the cultural competency of counseling practicum and internship students in university counseling centers (Cannon, 2008; Cook, Krell, Hayden, Garcia, & Denitzio, 2016; Cubero, 2011). However, Arredondo, Rosen, Rice, Perez, and Tovar-Gamero (2005) found in a content analysis on multicultural research that graduate students were overrepresented in multicultural research. Moreover, the researchers found that universities were the most utilized setting for empirical research in multicultural counseling. Although 78.4% of the articles in the content analysis were applicable to mental health settings, the authors recommended more diverse populations in multicultural research (e.g. culture-specific empirical studies; Arredondo et al., 2005).

While promoting MCC in counselors-in-training is important, it is equally necessary that practicing counselors continue to utilize culturally competent approaches in an effective manner with their clients. To this end, researchers have explored the cultural competence of school counselors (e.g., Constantine & Yeh, 2001; Holcomb-McCoy, 2001, 2004; Storlie & Toomey, 2016; Strong & Owens, 2011), rehabilitation counselors (e.g., Bellini, 2002; Case, Blackwell, & Sprong, 2016), and mental health clinicians (Barden, Sherrell, & Matthews, 2017; Constantine, 2001; Holcomb-McCoy & Myers, 1999). However, empirical research is needed on the relationship between counselors' MCC, multicultural self-efficacy (MCSE), and ethnic identity (EI). The next section will describe the three constructs used in our study and the purpose of our investigation.

MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING COMPETENCE

MCC encompasses counselors' cultural knowledge of self/clients, self-awareness, and usage of culturally appropriate techniques and interventions (Arredondo et al., 1996). Moreover, MCC includes the awareness of power, privilege, and oppression within the therapeutic relationship (Ratts et al., 2015). Culturally competent counselors are able to effectively address these dynamics to aid in client growth. The literature indicates that higher levels of MCC indicate stronger working alliances with clients (Constantine, 2007). …

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