Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Cultural Humility in Psychotherapy Supervision

Academic journal article American Journal of Psychotherapy

Cultural Humility in Psychotherapy Supervision

Article excerpt

"The supervision encounter is really an encounter between the supervisor's, the therapist's, and the client's...cultural maps ..."

-(Falicov, 2014, p. 32, italics in original)


During the past 30 years, multicultural competence has become a major theme in the mental health professions (e.g., American Psychological Association [APA], 2003). The multicultural psychotherapy/counseling movement grew as researchers persuasively documented that racial/ethnic minority clients were not getting their needs met in psychological treatment (Gonzales & Papadopoulos, 2010; Miranda, McGuire, Williams, & Wang, 2008; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2001). Accordingly, mental health professionals began to explore how to adapt dominant models of psychotherapy-which arose from a White, male perspective-to be more compatible with the values and worldview of clients from different cultural backgrounds. Models for education, training, research, practice, and organizational change attuned to and respectful of clients' cultural background have since been developed (APA, 2003). These models of multicultural competencies emphasized three components:

(a) self-awareness, which refers to developing an understanding of one's own cultural background and the ways in which it influences personal attitudes, values, and beliefs;

(b) knowledge, which refers to learning about the worldviews of individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds, and

(c) skills, which refers to utilizing culturally appropriate interventions (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992; Sue et al., 1982; Sue & Sue, 2012).

This model has received a considerable amount of attention, and many applied training programs have implemented coursework based on this model (Collins & Arthur, 2010).

Supervision is provided by a more senior professional to one in a more junior position, for enhancing professional functioning, monitoring the quality of professional services, and serving as a gatekeeper for the profession (Bernard & Goodyear, 2014; Falender, Shafranske, & Falicov, 2014a; Milne & Watkins, 2014). Scholars have recognized the supervision process as an integral component of training and the central opportunity to evaluate and enhance practical implementation of self-awareness, knowledge, and skills (Falender, Shafranske, & Falicov, 2014b; Tsui, O'Donohue, & Ng, 2014). Multicultural supervision, which attends to culture and diversity issues as a core component of supervision, can have a number of positive impacts on supervisee growth and development, such as enhancing multicultural knowledge and perceptions of the supervisory alliance (Inman, Hutman, Pendse, Devdas, Luu, & Ellis, 2014; Inman & Kreider, 2013; Soheilian, Inman, Klinger, Isenberg, & Kulpe, 2014). The importance of multicultural and intercultural competence is recognized internationally and incorporated into supervision competency frameworks around the globe (e.g., Falender, Cornish, Goodyear, Hatcher, Kaslow, Leventhal, & Grus, 2004; Pilling & Roth, 2014; Psychology Board of Australia, 2013). As Falender and Shafranske (2012) indicated, the value of a multicultural supervision perspective for contemporary practice cannot be overestimated.

In addition to an appreciation for multicultural competence, mental health professionals also focus on complementary factors, such as one's multicultural orientation (Owen, Tao, Leach, & Rodolfa, 2011). When fleshed out, multicultural competencies have focused on mastery of specific awareness, knowledge, or skills, regarding a particular aspect of culture. In contrast, multicultural orientation involves professional engagement with a client. Multicultural competencies can be thought of as a "way of doing" various tasks in the psychotherapy setting, whereas multicultural orientation can be thought of as a "way of being" with clients. While emphasis regarding multicultural orientation has exclusively been in the treatment situation, we believe that multicultural orientation is readily applicable to the supervision situation. …

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