Multicultural Counselor Competency in College Counseling Centers: Recommendations for Implementation

By Cubero, Chris | Michigan Journal of Counseling, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview

Multicultural Counselor Competency in College Counseling Centers: Recommendations for Implementation


Cubero, Chris, Michigan Journal of Counseling


Multicultural Counseling Competency in College Counseling Centers: Recommendations for Implementation

By necessity, counseling professionals are challenged with meeting the service needs of individuals from diverse groups. To answer the challenge, counselor education programs along with their accrediting bodies are increasingly more aware of the importance of cultural differences in counseling practices. The standards of practice outlined by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) include updated information on social and cultural diversity that parallel current research (CACREP, 2009). The International Association of Counseling Services (IACS, 2010) also recognized the importance of multicultural counseling competence in the role of counselors/counselors-in-training working within college and university settings. Thus, solidified counselor-in-training multicultural counseling awareness and knowledge of self and others, and skills when working cross-culturally are of the utmost importance.

The purpose of this article is to recommend ways to implement evidence-based multicultural counseling competency standards for counselors-intraining working as interns or practicum students in university counseling centers. To do so, the article describes a current college counseling center Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) program's procedures and methods for training and measuring counselor-in-training multicultural counseling competency. Beforehand, a brief review of the multicultural counseling competency research is provided that includes a review of common instruments of self-reported multicultural counselor competence (MCC). Self-reported MCC instruments can be utilized by counseling center programs to measure counselor-in-training multicultural counseling learning outcomes. Recommendations are outlined for the implementation of MCC standards into college counseling centers that can be utilized with on-site counselors-in-training. The article concludes with a discussion on meeting college counseling center standards of practice, future research, and new directions in multicultural counseling.

Multicultural Counseling and Counselors-in-Training

Sue et al.'s (1982) work provided the basis for MCC through the use of a three factor model (i.e. self-assessed attitudes/beliefs, knowledge of populations diverse from self, and the skills necessary to work with people diverse from our selves). First, counselor awareness of attitudes/beliefs toward their own race, ethnicity, and/or cultural heritage and their beliefs/attitudes toward the race, ethnicity, and cultural heritage of others is one factor in MCC. Second, counselor multicultural knowledge is generally defined as an understanding of the world-views of communities and the individuals within diverse communities. Third, multicultural counselor competence in terms of skills involves counselors' ability to use culturally sensitive interventions and strategies when working with clients from diverse backgrounds. The three factor model was embraced in whole or in part by counseling fields and has become a guide to the counseling education standardization bodies (e.g. CACREP, 2009). Thus, the definitions that guide counselor competence also guide how counselors-in-training are educated.

Multicultural Counseling Competency

The three factor model helped to define multicultural counseling competency (MCC). Pope-Davis, Liu, Toporek, and Brittan-Powell (2001) stated that MCC is guided by the three-factor model (awareness of attitudes/beliefs, knowledge, and skills) introduced by Sue et al. (1982). As suggested by Middleton et al. (2000) counselor-in-training MCC should include: (a) examination of their cultural values to see how they impact their cultural biases, (b) recognition of the impact of the counselor's own cultural values on diverse populations, and (c) acknowledgment of the differences that occur between diverse populations. …

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