Racism Attitudes, White Racial Identity Attitudes, and Multicultural Counseling Competence in School Counselor Trainees. (Counselor Preparation)

By Constantine, Madonna G. | Counselor Education and Supervision, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Racism Attitudes, White Racial Identity Attitudes, and Multicultural Counseling Competence in School Counselor Trainees. (Counselor Preparation)


Constantine, Madonna G., Counselor Education and Supervision


The author investigated the relative contributions of prior multicultural training, racism attitudes, and White racial identity attitudes to self-reported multicultural counseling competence in 99 school counselor trainees. After accounting for the number of previous multicultural counseling courses taken, results revealed that racism attitudes and White racial identity attitudes together contributed to significant variance in self-perceived multicultural counseling competence. In particular, higher levels of racism were correlated with lower levels of self-reported multicultural counseling competence. Moreover, higher Disintegration racial identity attitudes held by Whites were associated with their lower levels of self-perceived multicultural counseling competence. Implications of the findings are discussed.

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School systems throughout the United States are becoming more racially and ethnically diverse, with children of color being the majority of school-aged students in some cities in this country (Hodgkinson, 1985; Lee, 1995). Unfortunately, because of the paucity of multicultural training in school counselor programs (Durodoye, 1998; Hobson & Kanitz, 1996; Johnson, 1995), many school counselors may feel unequipped to address the specific mental health needs of culturally diverse students (Lockhart & Keys, 1998; Reynolds, 1999). Moreover, there is a paucity of empirically based information that discusses the extent to which school counselors are able to work competently with diverse school-aged children. Such competence is generally referred to as multicultural counseling competence (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992).

Few studies have examined multicultural counseling competence in school counselors. One exception was an investigation conducted by Constantine and Yeh (2001), who reported that previous multicultural training and that having a more independent self-construal (i.e., a tendency to base one's self-definition on one's unique attributes and abilities and on the importance of distinguishing oneself from others) were each significantly predictive of female school counselors' self-reported multicultural competence. In a study involving school counselor trainees, Constantine (200 lb) found that (a) prior multicultural training, (b) espousing an eclectic or integrative approach to counseling, and (c) perceiving oneself as being emotionally able to respond to others were each predictive of self-reported multicultural counseling competence. The aforementioned studies notwithstanding, there is a need for research that explores school counselors' multicultural competence in association with race-related attitudinal variables. Hence, the primary purpose of this study was to examine the relative contributions of racism attitudes and White racial identity attitudes to the self-reported multicultural counseling competence in school counselor trainees.

As a specialty area within the broader field of counseling, school counseling has generally not attended to race-related attitudinal issues in the context of empirical investigations. The general counseling literature, however, has examined race-related variables in different combinations. In particular, White racial identity attitudes have been explored in relation to other types of cultural constructs. According to Helms (1984, 1990), healthy White racial identity development occurs when Whites relinquish racist attitudes and move toward a nonracist identity. In her White racial identity model, Helms posited that Whites in the United States have been socialized in an environment in which members of their group were privileged in comparison with other racial groups, and Whites then learned to protect this privileged status by adopting racist attitudes and behaviors (Helms & Cook, 1999). Helms (1984, 1990) described the White racial identity development process as involving five components or "statuses" (Helms, 1995). …

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