Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Racial and Ethnic Identity Models and Their Application: Counseling Biracial Individuals

Academic journal article Journal of Mental Health Counseling

Racial and Ethnic Identity Models and Their Application: Counseling Biracial Individuals

Article excerpt

This article expounds on practical implications of racial and ethnic identity development models for counseling biracial individuals. Additional life history and demographic information are provided to specify the context in which the client, Mr. X, now seeks counseling. Racial and ethnic identity development models are briefly reviewed, the case is conceptualized, and practice suggestions are discussed. The content contained herein touches on other concepts from the multicultural counseling literature such as bicultural competence and racial and ethnic salience. The author attempts to help counselors think practically about existing models from which to work with this ever-burgeoning yet understudied segment of the U. S. population. Based on the conceptualization of the client, possible assessment and counseling interventions are discussed. A short vignette is provided to help bridge theory to practice with biracial clients.

Details have been added to the original Case of Mr. X in order to help readers understand more of the client's background, his environment during early development, and his new surroundings at college. The client's heritage and family history are further explained because Mr. X is not easily classifiable into one racial or ethnic category, and this fact along with racial salience issues relate significantly to the conceptualization of the presenting problems. Both the atmosphere of his hometown and the environs of his current residence provide contextual cues that help us understand the client according to racial and ethnic identity development models.

The individual in this case, Mr. X, is biracial. He is also multiethnic. More specifically, one parent is from Puerto Rico and the other is from the United States. The client refers to himself as Latino and indicates this classification as his primary identity on the intake form. His mother, a European American, grew up in the state of Washington, where her parents had immigrated from Eastern Europe (Romania) when she was young. His father is from Puerto Rico, and is of distant African heritage (i.e., he is Black). While in college his mother met his father, who had come from Puerto Rico to study engineering. The two of them were married shortly after graduating from college, and they later relocated to southern California for employment. There our client, Mr. X, was raised in southern California in a racially and ethnically diverse area. Although there was an abundance of other Latinos in Mr. X's community, the vast majority were Mexican American. He identified with this group to some degree and had other peers of Puerto Rican and South and Central American heritage, all with whom he could speak Spanish on a regular basis as he often did in his own home. His appearance, however, was more similar to African Americans than Latinos. His skin tone and visible outward features were somewhat ambiguous, which only occasionally led to questions from others about his background because he had many peers and role models of biracial heritage. Thus, even when asked about racial and ethnic identification, it was of no consequence because, as he put it, "in my area it is common and cool to be mixed." Two of his best friends were biracial and multiethnic. Similarly, his girlfriend is biracial and Spanish speaking. Other friends in California were Latino, African American, White, and Asian American.

Upon moving to the Midwest, he found himself at a university and in an area that was much less diverse than the region in which he was raised. Although there was a Mexican and Mexican-American community that was rapidly growing, many of these individuals were immigrants or first generation. He found it hard to identify with this group, who were more part of the working class community than the university student body. Many of his friends in college were either European American or African American. He could tell that first impressions of him led Midwesterners to think of him as simply African American. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.