Advocating for Social Justice in Academia through Recruitment, Retention, Admissions, and Professional Survival

By Shin, Richard Q. | Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development, July 2008 | Go to article overview

Advocating for Social Justice in Academia through Recruitment, Retention, Admissions, and Professional Survival


Shin, Richard Q., Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development


There has been a growing focus on integrating social justice issues in counseling and counseling psychology fields. In this article, the author explores some of the opportunities and responsibilities that social justice-oriented counseling faculty have within institutions of higher education. Specific areas of focus are recruitment, retention, admissions, and professional survival.

Se esta prestando una atencion creciente a la integracion de las cuestiones de justicia social en los campos de la consejeria y la terapia psicologica. En este articulo, el autor explora algunas de las oportunidades y responsabilidades que la consejeria orientada a la justicia social ofrece a las instituciones de educacion superior. Algunas areas especificas de interns son la contratacion, la retencion, las admisiones y la supervivencia profesional.

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The emphasis on social justice issues in the fields of counseling and counseling psychology has continued to grow in recent years (Constantine, Hage, Kindaichi, & Bryant, 2007; Speight & Vera, 2004). The increasing awareness of how factors like oppression and inequality affect the lives of racially and culturally diverse clients has been strongly influenced by the multicultural competence movement (Arredondo & Perez, 2003; Sue et al., 1982). Social justice has been defined as "the elimination of institutionalized domination and oppression" (Young, 1990, p. 15). Therefore, social justice-oriented scholars have questioned the continued bias toward individual interventions in the fields of counseling and counseling psychology (Constantine et al., 2007; Speight & Vera, 2004), while advocating for a greater focus on the oppressive social conditions that are a primary source of many psychological problems among clients from marginalized groups.

Although there has been a rapid increase in scholarship focused on the integration of social justice values into the education, training, and practice of counselors and counseling psychologists, there has been less emphasis on the specific responsibilities that social justice-oriented counseling faculty have as members of institutions of higher education. Although there has been some important work done on this topic (Gloria & Pope-Davis, 1997; Goodman, Liang, & Helms, 2004), there is a paucity of empirical and theoretical publications in the counseling literature that have directly addressed all the areas in need of social justice advocacy within academia. This is surprising considering that the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American Psychological Association (APA) have both endorsed professional guidelines that emphasize the roles of advocate and change agent in institutions or organizations (APA, 2002; J. Lewis, Arnold, House, & Toporek, 2003). Counseling and counseling psychology faculty are situated in unique and influential positions to identify the policies in higher education that perpetuate the oppression of certain individuals and groups and, concurrently, to provide students with strategies for empowerment and social transformation.

Any given institution of higher education can be viewed as a microcosm of the larger society (McKay, 1993) that promotes and reinforces dominant cultural values (James, 1993). In many ways, academia mirrors other institutions of power and privilege that are based on race, gender, social class, and other socially constructed categories (Andersen & Collins, 2004; Robinson, 1999). Not surprisingly, the transmission and reinforcement of these values are evident in the fields of counseling and psychology. Scholars have asserted that counselor education has been dominated by White privilege and mainstream societal values (Ivey, Ivey, D'Andrea, & Daniels, 1997). The endorsement in U.S. society of rugged individualism and the illusion of meritocracy have been reinforced in the education and training in psychology that have had a strong bias toward framing human problems in "apolitical, intrapsychic, and deficit-oriented diagnoses" (Prilleltensky, 1997, p. …

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