Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The Diversity of Diversity: Canadian-American Differences and Their Implications for Clinical Training and APA Accrediation

Academic journal article Canadian Psychology

The Diversity of Diversity: Canadian-American Differences and Their Implications for Clinical Training and APA Accrediation

Article excerpt

Abstract

When Canadian clinical training programs seek APA accreditation, they face a problem in communicating the unique features of Canadian society relevant to their programs and to the APA criterion relating to "diversity." This is frequently a basis of misunderstandings that emerge in informal comments and final reports. This article reviews the differences between Canada and the United States in terms of wellbeing, social policy, and the nature of diversity within each nation. It outlines the relevance of these factors to Canadian clinical programs. The review can assist Canadian programs preparing APA accreditation.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has accredited 18 university programs1 and 18 internships in clinical and school psychology in Canada, using a joint process with APA and the Canadian Psychological Association. The evaluation of a program may reveal problems that are eventually reconciled, but one theme that has been a source of difficulty relates to Domain D of the criteria (American Psychological Association, 1996), concerning "cultural and individual differences and diversity." Problems with Domain D have also occurred in U.S. programs, generating criticism of the way programs have been increasingly sanctioned for failure to satisfy these criteria. Critics there have argued that often the criteria of diversity that are emphasized concern a narrow list, essentially race, disability, and sexual orientation (Rickard & Clements, 1993). In fact, race normally dominates APA documentation about minorities, surveys routinely seek program information about diversity defined racially, and APA pressures its committees to incorporate this racially defined minority representation (Thorn, 2000).

Domain D problems also occur when APA site team members from the U.S. examine Canadian programs. Informal evidence from directors of these programs suggests that U.S. examiners are looking for race-based evidence that people of African origin are present and are featured in training materials and settings. Canadian directors have been asked by American examiners, "Where are your blacks?," and have been told "you all look pretty white to me." (Hard data are difficult to get as colleagues advise me these and other events are not for attribution for fear of endangering their accreditation.) Finding little evidence of the expected represents tion of African (or Hispanic) visibility in students and faculty, U.S. examiners describe the program as having limited diversity. The problem continues at the Committee on Accreditation, where diversity criticisms have led to requests for "supplemental information," "further clarification," and to final reports referring to the Canadian programs' insufficient efforts to address the cultural diversity domain.

These examples suggest a narrow construal of diversity in APA criteria, arising from U.S. attempts to ameliorate social problems related to their important racial minorities. In contrast, as this review will show, the diversities upon which Canadian clinical training programs in psychology ought to focus are significantly different, and largely are not correlated with race or social problems.

To understand the "diversity of diversity" in the two nations, I will first review U.S. and Canadian societies across indicators of well-being relevant to psychological practise, documenting significant differences. I will then review the different nature of minorities in Canada, and examine how these relate to Canadian clinical programs and accreditation. Finally, I will propose a way of approaching diversity in our multicultural country that avoids stereotyping while advancing cultural richness.

Psychosocial Differences Between Canada and the United States

Our two nations are similar in many ways, deriving from common roots in the United Kingdom. Similarities include a commitment to democracy, universal education, universal adult franchise, the rule of law, and freedoms of religion, speech, and association. …

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