The relationships between multicultural counseling competence, cultural immersion, & cognitive/emotional developmental styles: implications for multicultural counseling training

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Laura R. Shannonhouse (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Jane Myers

Abstract: When counselors acquire (a) awareness of one's own enculturation and related biases, (b) knowledge of the worldviews and values of minority populations, and (c) skills for appropriate interventions, they are said to possess the multicultural counseling competence (MCC) necessary to work effectively with diverse clientele (Ponterotto et al., 1996; Sue & Sue, 2003). Cultural immersion (CI), exiting one's own cultural context and entering into the activities of an identified cultural group, is argued to be effective at increasing MCC (Goodman & West-Olatunji, 2009a, 2009b; Pedersen & Leong, 1997; Pope-Davis, Breaux, & Liu, 1997; West-Olatunji, Goodman, Mehta, & Templeton, 2011). Group process is argued to be the vehicle to increase MCC during CI; however, research to support this is lacking. There is evidence that developmental supervision approaches push trainees to progress from stereotypic thinking and limited awareness to increased awareness (Ancis & Ladany, 2001; Sabnani, Ponterotto, & Borodovsky, 1991). Thus, turning to cognitive / emotional developmental style (CEDS) processing was needed as utilizing dialectic CEDS, and all four CEDS, has been found to foster more cognitively complex thoughts (Ivey, Ivey, Myers, & Sweeney, 2005; Rigazio-DiGilio, Daniels, & Ivey, 1997), which have been correlated with MCC (Benet-Martinez, Lee, & Leu, 2006; Ishii, Gilbride, & Stensrud, 2009; Pedersen, 2000). The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships between MCC, critical components of CI, and CEDS. The sample consisted of 493 master's-level counselor-trainees who were currently enrolled in or had completed a cross-culture counseling course, and had experience working with clients. They completed a 117-item survey packet. Overall, results supported the expected relationships between MCC, CI, and CEDS. Specifically, a one-way ANOVA indicated immersed trainees had higher mean MCC scores than their non-immersed peers. Results of correlations and multiple regression analyses indicated relationships between the critical components of CI and MCC, with pre-training and interaction emerging as more significant predictors. ANOVA results also indicated trainees with higher dialectical and sensorimotor scores had significantly greater mean MCC. In addition, trainees that could operate within all four CEDS independently, versus those that displayed an inability to operate in at least one, had greater mean MCC. Multiple regressions also were utilized to determine how well two models (a combination of CI history and dialectic score, and a combination of CI history and sensorimotor score) predicted MCC. There was not a stronger correlation between CI and MCC for trainees whose dialectic scores were significantly greater; however, there was a stronger correlation between CI and MCC for counselor-trainees who had higher sensorimotor scores. Finally, results from a two-way ANOVA (with interaction) indicated trainees who were able to operate in all four CEDSs had significantly greater mean MCC scores, regardless of immersion history. These results have implications for counselors and counselor educators. Professional counselors who have not had an immersion experience might find CI useful in gaining KSAs. In addition, CI may be a useful training strategy for counselor educators to utilize to foster the attainment of MCC in counselor-trainees. Both counselors and counselor-trainees may benefit from utilizing the sensorimotor and dialectic CEDS, in addition to processing in all four CEDS. In addition, since the CEDS are taken from the DCT model, these preliminary findings provide support for the use of DCT in both training and practice. Finally, these results have implications for future research. Researchers could explore the impact of additional multicultural counseling training, counseling experience, and working with culturally diverse others on MCC, particularly what types of MCT directly correspond to the observed increase in MCC. Research is needed on international students and their perpetual immersion to elucidate what processes account for their enhanced MCC. Further work is also needed to clarify the impact of specific CI activities on particular domains of MCC. Additionally, there is a need for more effective means of measuring both CI and CEDS. Lastly, these results suggest that future experimental designs of intentional process group structure (using CEDS) to enhance MCC during CI merit attention.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2013
Cognitive Style, Counselor-trainees, Cultural Immersion, Developmental Counseling, Experiential Education, Multicultural Counseling
Cross-cultural counseling $z United States
Counselor trainees
Multiculturalism $z United States
Minorities $x Counseling of $z United States

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