Training Culturally Competent Career Counselors

By LoFrisco, Barbara M.; Osborn, Debra S. | Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, Spring 2012 | Go to article overview

Training Culturally Competent Career Counselors


LoFrisco, Barbara M., Osborn, Debra S., Career Planning and Adult Development Journal


Abstract

CACREP and NCDA standards, along with the growing minority population in the United States, strongly suggest the importance of ensuring future career counselors are culturally competent. Yet, a recent search of the counselor education literature failed to locate any articles describing how to accomplish this. This article addresses this gap by surveying the necessary elements of multicultural learning activities, providing examples used in other areas of counselor education, and describing several ways of incorporating cultural competence in career development courses.

Culturally Competent Career Development Practice

The Council for Accreditation on Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) requires accredited counseling programs to teach "career counseling processes, techniques, and resources, including those applicable to specific populations in a global economy" (p. 12, CACREP, 2009) and to provide "an understanding of the cultural context of relationships, issues, and trends in a multicultural society" (p. 10, CACREP, 2009). The National Career Development Association (NCDA) lists "knowledge and skills considered essential in providing career counseling and development processes to diverse populations" as a minimum competency. Therefore, it is essential that multicultural competencies be addressed in the career coursework of counselor education curricula. In addition, Flores, Spanierman and Obasi (2003) suggested that cross cultural relevancy of approaches should "integrate culturally relevant information about the client; attempts to understand the client in his or her cultural, personal and career contextual realities; and takes into account the limitations of traditional assessment and assessment tools" (p. 80).

There are other important reasons for incorporating multicultural competencies into career courses. According to learning and cognitive theory, a person's life experiences and social position will affect their career choice (Zunker, 2006). Because we live in such a culturally diverse world, it can be expected that individuals will vary widely on life experiences. Because these experiences affect career choice, it is essential that career counselors understand how various cultures can affect career choice. Consequently, it is imperative that career counselors gain knowledge about diverse populations. In addition, the counselor's possession of information about different cultural and ethnic groups can have a positive impact on clinical work (Beitin, Ducket, & Fackina, 2008). Flores and Heppner (2002) outlined 10 essential areas for training culturally competent career counselors, including: population demographics; the world of work; career and multicultural counseling competencies; career counseling process; multicultural counseling theory; career development models; career assessment; barriers to career development; culturally sensitive career centers; and continued professional development, (p. 182).

Although a recent literature search located several articles on teaching multiculturalism in counseling programs (Beitin, Ducket, & Fackina, 2008; Jackson, 1999; Laszloffy & Habekost, 2010; Loya & Cuevas, 2010; McDowell, Storm, & York, 2007; Villalba & Redmond, 2008), no articles were found specifically addressing career courses. This article will address this gap by providing recommendations and examples on teaching cultural competence in career courses.

Definitions

The term diversity refers to other individual, people differences including age, gender, sexual orientation, religion, physical ability or disability, and other characteristics by which someone may prefer to self-define, whereas the term multicultural is a little more specific, focusing on ethnicity, race, and culture (Arredondo, et al, 1996, p. 44). Although both terms were used during the literature search, none of the articles referred to diversity, but rather focused on the more restrictive term, multicultural. …

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