Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Fostering Multicultural and Social Justice Competence through Counsellor Education Pedagogy Favoriser la Compétence Multiculturelle et De Justice Sociale Par la Pédagogie Dans la Formation Des Conseillers

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy (Online)

Fostering Multicultural and Social Justice Competence through Counsellor Education Pedagogy Favoriser la Compétence Multiculturelle et De Justice Sociale Par la Pédagogie Dans la Formation Des Conseillers

Article excerpt

The growing cultural diversity of North American society has prompted calls for a systematic infusion of both multicultural counselling (MC) and social justice (SJ) objectives in counsellor education programs (Durham & Glosoff, 2010; Pieterse, Evans, Risner-Butner, Collins, & Mason, 2009). Counsellors and counselling psychologists, who work within an increasingly pluralistic society, are challenged to enhance their MC competence (Arredondo et ah, 1996; Sue & Sue, 1990). The linkage between one's social position and access to resources has been identified in MC competency frameworks (Arredondo et al., 1996; Sue et al., 1998). Dimensions of culture such as age, social class, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, race, religion, language, national origin, ability, and their intersections have a profound effect on clients' worldview, how they are viewed by other people, and their general sense of health and well-being (Graham, Carney, & Kluck, 2012; Green, Callands, Radcliffe, Luebbe, & Klonoff, 2009; Sinacore et al., 2011).

We take the position that it is not group membership or any one dimension of culture that inherently defines a person's identity. Rather, through their social interactions, individuals incorporate information about their identity and who they are relative to other people, as well as through their social standing in society (Fouad, Gerstein, & Toporek, 2006). In essence, people's personal and cultural identities are constructed through the social interactions and messages that they receive, often positioned around salient aspects of cultural dimensions. Attention to culture matters in the therapeutic process because it bears on the client's identity and influences the client's behaviour (Sinacore et al., 2011). In turn, the Culture-Infused Counselling competency model (Collins & Arthur, 2010a, 2010b) focuses on the ways that culture also influences the counsellor's identity and the ways that counsellors perceive and respond to client concerns. What is constructed between counsellors and clients is a unique culture, albeit there are many influences from their prior relationships and experiences in society (Pedersen, Crethar, & Carlson, 2008). We concur that it is critical to consider clients' multiple identities and social contexts in framing client concerns and designing culturally responsive interventions (Brubaker, Puig, Reese, & Young, 2010; Collins, 2010; Sinacore et al., 2011), and to work collaboratively with clients in designing and implementing culturally responsive professional services.

In our previous writing, we took, and continue to take, the position that MC is inextricably connected to SJ, and professional counsellors need to develop competencies for actively demonstrating their skills (Arthur & Collins, 2010). Therefore, it is important to consider how we prepare professionals, such as counsellors and counselling psychologists, for their future roles. Professional helpers inevitably work with clients whose life experiences and contextual influences are diverse, and practitioners need to be adequately prepared for working directly with clients, for working on their behalf, and for changing the systems and social structures that adversely impact their mental health. There is more written about the need for multicultural and SJ competencies in counsellor education than research that inform ways of effectively preparing counsellors (Arthur & Collins, in press).

The purpose of our present research was to investigate how students evaluated counsellor education curriculum designed to address MC and SJ competency development. Specifically, we were interested in students' perspectives about how well the curriculum prepared them for professional practice. We explored students' perspectives about the content of the curriculum, the learning processes that were helpful, and the barriers and gaps in curriculum that they identified. Our central research question was as follows: What are students' perceptions about the content and processes of curriculum on MC and SJ in terms of preparation for professional practice? …

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