Multicultural Issues in Counseling
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Multicultural Issues in Counseling

New Approaches to Diversity

Courtland C. Lee, Courtland C. Lee

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eBook - ePub

Multicultural Issues in Counseling

New Approaches to Diversity

Courtland C. Lee, Courtland C. Lee

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About This Book

With an emphasis on direct application to practice, this graduate-level text offers strategies for working with diverse client groups in a variety of settings. Introductory chapters build a foundation for cross-cultural counseling with discussions on current theory, the ongoing pursuit of multicultural competence, and the complexities of intersecting identities. Next, 15 chapters designed to help counselors develop their knowledge about and skills with the following populations are presented:

  • African Americans
  • American Indians
  • Arab Americans
  • Asian and Pacific Islanders
  • Economically disadvantaged clients
  • Immigrants
  • Latinx
  • LGBTQ clients
  • Men
  • Military personnel
  • Multiracial individuals
  • Older adults
  • People with disabilities
  • White people of European descent
  • Women

Detailed case studies in this section illustrate real-world perspectives on assessment and treatment for an increased understanding of culturally responsive counseling. The final section of the book focuses on ethics and social justice issues.

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Chapter 1
Multicultural Competency: A Conceptual Framework for Counseling Across Cultures

Courtland C. Lee
Counseling theory and practice have been greatly affected by the growing diversity of client populations that reflects the changing demographics and social dynamics of the early 21st century. For example, projections of the U.S. population indicate that by the year 2050, the nation’s racial and ethnic mix will look quite different from what it does now, with 29% of the population being Latinx, 13% Black, and 9% Asian or Pacific Islander. It is significant that non-Hispanic Whites, who made up 67% of the population in 2005, will make up 47% in 2050 (Passel & Cohn, 2008). It is important to note that the 2000 Census marked the first time that people could describe themselves by selecting more than one racial category. As a result, data from the 2010 Census revealed that the number of people who reported multiple races grew by a larger percentage than the number of those reporting a single race. According to the 2010 Census, the population reporting multiple races (9.0 million) grew by 32.0% from 2000 to 2010 compared with those reporting a single race, which grew by 9.2%. Overall, the total U.S. population increased by 9.7% since 2000; however, many multiple-race groups increased by 50% or more (U.S. Census Bureau, 2012b).
It is important to note that although changes in the racial/ethnic makeup of the country are occurring, other aspects are contributing to a new awareness of cultural diversity within the counseling profession. Data indicate that groups of people long marginalized or disenfranchised along dimensions other than race or ethnicity are being recognized. For example, even though the U.S. Census Bureau does not ask about sexual orientation in the U.S. Census, approximately 4.1% of American adults identify themselves as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (Gallup News, 2017).
In addition, within the past several decades social, economic, and political upheavals across the globe have resulted in an increase in the number of people immigrating to the United States, which has placed a greater focus on cultural diversity. Although immigration has always been a crucial factor in the development of the country, the recent wave of undocumented immigrants as well as refugees and asylum seekers has spurred much controversy and presented unique challenges to the social service infrastructure. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Immigration Statistics, an estimated 11.4 million unauthorized immigrants resided in the United States as of January 2012 (Baker & Rytina, 2013). In addition, in 2015, a total of 69,920 persons were admitted to the United States as refugees, and 26,124 individuals were granted asylum (Mossaad, 2016).
Like immigrants, individuals with disabilities make up a notable portion of the U.S. population. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (2012a), about 56.7 million people—19% of the population—had a disability in 2010, with more than half of them reporting that the disability was severe.
It is significant that although the United States continues to be the most affluent country in human history, large numbers of individuals still experience socioeconomic disadvantage, and the culture of poverty has long been recognized (Lewis, 1971; Valentine, 1968). Underscoring this notion of poverty as culture are census data that indicate that the official poverty rate in 2016 was 12.7%, which represents approximately 40.6 million people (Semega, Fontenot, & Kollar, 2017).
As marginalized or oppressed groups have gained greater awareness and made significant strides toward social inclusion, other social movements have changed the fabric of American life. For instance, in the past several decades there have been significant changes in the roles of men and women (Burkhauser & Holden, 2013; Collins, 2009; Cook, Jones, Dick, & Singh, 2005; Freedman, 2003; Pease & Pringle, 2001; Rabinowitz & Cochran, 1994). In addition, as large segments of the population age, the needs and challenges of older Americans are becoming more apparent (Acree et al., 2006; Musa, Schulz, Harris, Silverman, & Thomas, 2009; Shearer, Fleury, Ward, & O’Brien, 2012; Zickuhr & Madden, 2012).
Finally, the active-duty strength in the U.S. armed forces for fiscal year 2017 was 1,281,900 service members, with an additional 801,200 people in reserve (U.S. Department of Defense, 2016). Major geopolitical events of the first two decades of the 21st century (e.g., 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, growing tensions with North Korea) have brought home a new awareness of military life. It has been graphically demonstrated that the realities of men and women in military service are vastly different from those of individuals in civilian life. These realities constitute a distinct culture, and the men and women in the service of their country face issues and challenges that are unique to the dynamics of this culture.
These data suggest that counseling theory and practice has been greatly affected by an increased awareness of and greater contact among people from diverse cultural backgrounds. It is significant that there has been an acknowledgment within the profession that counseling services often do not have broad applicability across the range of cultural backgrounds represented by clients (Katz, 1985; Pedersen, Lonner, & Draguns, 1976; Sue, 1977, 1992; Vontress, 1969, 1981). With this awareness has come frustration that in attempts to promote human development in the helping process, the values inherent in counseling and those of clients from culturally diverse backgrounds often come into conflict. To resolve this conflict and the frustration that often accompanies it, cultural differences must be effectively addressed in the provision of counseling services. It is evident that professional counselors need a conceptual framework from which to operate if they are going to ensure that clients from culturally diverse backgrounds have access to competent services.
This chapter provides such a conceptual framework. It explores the acquisition of multicultural counseling competence from a developmental perspective. The nature of multicultural counseling is examined first. Next, multicultural counseling competency is operationally defined. Finally, a conceptual framework is presented that examines the foundational dimensions as well as the components of multicultural counseling competency.

The Nature of Multicultural Counseling

Multicultural counseling can be operationally defined as the working alliance between counselor and client that takes the personal dynamics of the counselor and client into consideration alongside the dynamics found in the cultures of both of these individuals. Multicultural counseling therefore takes into consideration the cultural backgrounds and individual experiences of diverse clients and how their psychosocial needs might be identified and met through counseling (Lee, 2013b).
It is significant that the concept of multicultural counseling has become the impetus for the development of a generic theory of multiculturalism that has become recognized as the fourth theoretical force in the profession (Pedersen, 1991a). Thus, multicultural theory joins the other three major traditions—psychodynamic theory, cognitive–behavior theory, and existential–humanistic theory—as a primary explanation of human development. Basic to the theory of multiculturalism is the notion that both client and counselor bring to the helping relationship a variety of cultural variables, such as age, gender, sexual orientation, education, disability, religion, race or ethnic background, and socioeconomic status. In essence, cultural diversity is a characteristic of all counseling relationships; therefore, all counseling can be conceived as being cross-cultural in nature (Pedersen, 1991b).
This evolution of multicultural counseling into a theoretical force implies some important principles for theory and practice. Within the context of the definition discussed previously, there are six basic principles of multicultural counseling:
  1. Culture refers to any group of people who identify or associate with one another on the basis of some common purpose, need, or similarity of background.
  2. Cultural differences are real, and they influence all human interactions.
  3. All counseling is cross-cultural in nature, as both client and counselor bring their unique personal histories and cultures (e.g., gender, social class, religion, language) into the counseling process.
  4. Multicultural counseling emphasizes human diversity in all of its many forms.
  5. Culturally competent counselors develop awareness, knowledge, and skills to effectively interact with clients from culturally diverse backgrounds.
  6. Culturally competent counselors are globally literate human beings who need to be aware of topical political and socioeconomic challenges and issues across the globe.
Reflecting on the definition and principles of multicultural counseling, it is important to note that the American Counseling Association (ACA) has adopted the following definition of counseling: “Counseling is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals, families, and groups to accomplish mental health, wellness, education, and career goals” (ACA, 2010, para. 2). This definition makes explicit the idea that counselors will encounter individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds in helping relationships. Implicit in the definition is the importance of counselors having the awareness, knowledge, and skill to help empower individuals, families, and groups in ways that are sensitive to and inclusive of cultural realities.

Multicultural Counseling Competency

This definition and these principles provide the basis for mu...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Multicultural Issues in Counseling
APA 6 Citation
[author missing]. (2018). Multicultural Issues in Counseling (5th ed.). Wiley. Retrieved from (Original work published 2018)
Chicago Citation
[author missing]. (2018) 2018. Multicultural Issues in Counseling. 5th ed. Wiley.
Harvard Citation
[author missing] (2018) Multicultural Issues in Counseling. 5th edn. Wiley. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
[author missing]. Multicultural Issues in Counseling. 5th ed. Wiley, 2018. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.