Full version Cultural Competence In Counseling

Cultural Competence In Counseling

This print version free essay Cultural Competence In Counseling.

Category: Psychology

Autor: reviewessays 23 December 2010

Words: 1840 | Pages: 8

Cultural competence and ethical responsibility of counselors is an issue that holds increasing importance. To be both multicultural and ethical is increasingly challenging. The population of the United States is changing quickly from a predominately white Caucasian society to an ethnically diverse society`. The Hispanic population, which represented only 9% of the population in 1990, is projected to increase to about 25% of the population by 2050. The number of African Americans, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, and American Indians/Eskimos/Aleuts will continue to increase as well (Aponte & Wohl, 2000). It has been predicted that Whites, who made up three fourths of the U.S. population in 1990, will no longer be in the majority by the year 2050 (Sue, 1996). These demographic changes mean that clients of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds increase importance of making multicultural competence a necessary standard.

Due to the changing demographics of society and cultural changes, counselors must be diligent in preparing themselves to be diversely competent. Competence is the ethical challenge at hand. Research suggests that the past and current versions of the ACA Code of Ethics do not adequately address the demands of working with non-white, non-western clients. Past versions of the ACA Code of Ethics paid little attention to the presenting multicultural issues of counseling. The difference between the 1988 and 1995 code is an indicator of the movement of the profession and the changes in values held by many in the profession. Recent revision efforts of the ACA Code of Ethics have given special consideration to culture to serve as guidelines for counselors. Kocet (2004) believes the revisions of the 1995 Code of Ethics could lead to a new focus in the counselor relationship that encourages interaction with clients that occurs both in clinical and non-clinical settings. Given the constant revision considerations it is important that education and preparation systems of counselors followed suit? It will not be enough for the Code of Ethics to simply state that counselors must be able to work effectively with individuals with differing cultures. The profession must adjust its preparation to improve or ensure this ability.

Counselors are bound by professional and ethical obligations to “respect the dignity and promote the welfare of the clients” (American Counseling Association, 1995, Section A.1.a.) and to practice competently. To counter these arising multicultural issues, the ACA president, created the ethics revision task force, whose goals were to put special emphasis on culture, diversity, and social justice issues. Although the 1995 version of the ACA Code of Ethics is seen as more culturally egalitarian that the previous version, Pederson (1997) pointed out that the code remains value laden with ideas that still do not embrace a diverse society but instead privilege a value system that reflects the inherent values and ideals of the dominant society.

Due to the impossible task of incorporating every ethical and culturally diverse situation into the Code of Ethics, other factors and strategies must be utilized to determine ethical responses. Academic, as well as multicultural training initiatives seem warranted to assist student competency. Knowledge and application of models for multicultural ethical decision making, and ethical philosophies, such as universalism is essential for today’s professional. Movement toward inclusion of multicultural pedagogies is needed so that counselor preparation becomes more diverse and includes values consistent with being a humanitarian.

Pedagogy attempts to provide a framework for the preparation of competent multicultural counselors. It is widely viewed that changes need to be made to incorporate individual client values into goals, and interventions. In an effort to ensure standardized development of multicultural competent counselors, the Counsel for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP; 2001) incorporated the goal of diversity into its academic standards. This represents needed changes in preparation of counselors to be more inclusive of diverse values held by diverse society. Research discovered several models and theories of which address application of cultural sensitivity and awareness.

The first formal description of multicultural counseling competencies, developed by the Education and Training Committee of the APA’s division of Counseling Psychology appeared in 1982 (sue et al., 1982). It outlines 11 minimal characteristics necessary to provide appropriate services to minority clients. Each characteristic was conceptionalized within three broad dimensions: attitudes/beliefs (awareness), knowledge, and skills. Theoretical expansion was provided 10 years later by Sue, Arredondo, and McDavis (1992). They were members of the professional standards committee of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD). This version introduced three broad counselor characteristics: becoming aware of one’s own assumptions, values and biases; understanding the worldview of culturally diverse clients; and developing appropriate intervention strategies and techniques. In 1996, the AMCD Professional Standards Committee published and expanded version of the sue et al. (1992) multicultural counseling competencies. The most significant revisions was in the clarification of key terms, such as diversity and multicultural. Multiculturalism puts the focus on ethnicity, race and culture. Diversity refers to other characteristics by which persons may prefer to self-define. The authors also assert that a multicultural competent professional displays sociopolitical awareness. This term refers to the cognizant appreciation of forces which impact the lives of racial/ethnic minorities on a daily basis. Accreditation guidelines for graduate training programs approved by the APA Counsel of Representatives (APA,1996). These guidelines include cultural and individual differences and diversity which addresses characteristics such as “age, color, disabilities, ethnicity, gender, language, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, and social economic status” ( )

The VISION model of culture for counselors argues that popular views of multiculturalism emphasize group differences attributable to race and ethnicity, by do not appreciate the diversity within the group. This model shifts from a group level abstraction to the individual. This approach fits the need for group and individualistic considerations for counseling ethnic groups. This model directs attention to an individual’s thoughts, feelings, or actions.

V- Value and belief systems form the principles for keeping individuals oriented in a changing world; individuals learn to structure their phenomenal world according to values and preferences.

I- Internal responses to external stimuli in an individuals phenomenal world produces interactive learning

S- Structuring of an individual’s phenomenal world is built on values and beliefs, which generated appropriate strategies (goal-directed behaviors).

I- Interactive learning takes place through verbal and nonverbal communication in social groups and within one’s physical environment.

O- Operational procedures and strategies of individuals are linked to accomplishing behavioral expectations and future goals through decision making

N- Needs fulfillment—physical, mental, emotional—is the basis of an individual’s phenomenological world.( )

Banks (1994) developed the Multicultural Education Model. It was designed to move counselor education programs into the future to meet the demands of an ever-changing society. The model aspires to “clarify the philosophical position, design and implement effective teaching strategies that reflect ethnic diversity and prepare sound guidelines for multiethnic programs and practices” (Banks 1994, p.xix). His model includes a four approach model that includes the following: contributions, ethnic additive, transformation, and social action. The contribution approach consisted on focusing on heroes, holidays, native dances in American versions of ethnic cuisine. This introductory step allowed avoidance of crucial issues such as victimization, oppression, and racism. The ethnic additive approach involves the addition of multicultural concepts, themes and perspectives to the curriculum. The third approach is transformation. Educators move into integrating actual change in the goals, structure, and perspectives. Emphasis is on commonalities into the development of each culture. Discussion on how much the dominant culture borrowed from other groups, including meanings of words and customs. The final approach is social action or advocating for social justice. This level includes all of the elements of the transformation approach, with an addition of components that lead students to make decisions and to take actions the related to the concept, issue, or problem discussed. More inquiry based materials are used and discussion of strategies and decision making occurs.

Multicultural training in counseling is still in its infancy; therefore, monitoring the effectiveness of each multicultural sensitivity training program is very important for the direction of future plans in counselor preparation. A counselor’s ability to provide culturally competent counseling is mandated by the ACA Code of Ethics. Currently, new educational and graduate preparation models are being used and studied. Important validation of educational programs are sought to determine the most effective way to promote cultural sensitivity. The development of a specific counselor education pedagogy that is based on diversity must be constructed in a manner that incorporates diversity from an ethic perspective. Within the next fifty years, incorporating ethnic values in counseling will be less of an exception and more of the rule.


Arredondo, P., & D’Andrea, M. (1995,September). AMCD approves multicultural counseling competency standards. Counseling Today, 28-32.

American Counseling Association.(1995). Code of ethics and standards of practice.Alexandria, VA: Author.

Kocet, M. (2004, March). ACA Code of Ethics revision in progress: Counselors encouraged to participate in process. Couseling Today, 7.

Banks, J. A. (1994). Transforming the mainstream curriculum. Education Leadership, 51(8), 4-8.

Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. (2001). The 2001 CACREP standards. Alexandrea, VA: Author.

American Psychological Association, Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation. (1996). Book 1: Guidelines and principles for accreditation of programsin professional psycholoty and Book 2: Accreditation operating procedures. Washington, DC: Author.

Sue, D.W.,Arredondo,P., and McDavis, R.J. (1992). Multicultural counseling competencies and standards: A call to the profession. Journal of Counseling and Development. 70, 477-486.

Sue, D.W., Bernier,J.E., Durran, A., Feinberg,L., Pedersen,P.,Smith, E.J., and Vasquez-Nuttal, E. (1982). Position paper: Cross-cultural counseling competencies. The Counseling Psychologist, 10, 45-52.

Aponte, J. F., & Wohl, J. (2000). Psychological intervention and cultural diversity. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Sue, D. W. (1996). Ethical issues in multicultural counseling. In B. Herlihy & G. Corey (Eds.), ACA ethical standards casebood (5th ed., pp. 193-197). Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.

clarification of the fundamental ethical beliefs of the profession (Hinman, 2003; Welfel, 2006).

The revisions of the code may spur the use of counseling services by diverse groups by improving the ability of counselors to meet clients need based on clients’ cultural values.(1)

example, dual relationships are discouraged, but they may also be precisely the vehicles needed to promote the welfare of the client. Such a paradox creates a significant ethical dilemma for counselors.

Counselors and future counselors face a variety of challenges as society becomes more diverse and laden with differing value systems..

A code of Ethics for most professional organizations or associations is designed to articulate the standards of practice for a group of people. It is a way to express the collective values of a profession. The code of ethics “is a live document that can assist individuals in ethical quandaries. It must be broad enough to encompass many divergent ethical situations” (Kocet, 2006, p.7). There are two central components of a code of ethics for counselors: first, a code outlines the prescribed or mandatory professional behaviors by which counselors are expected to govern their conduct, and second, a code contains aspiration components, which encourage active ethical reflection that fosters