PURPOSE A Self & Others -CDT

This course involves the examination of ethnic and cultural awareness issues that influence the etiology, perception, and treatment of minorities in counseling. Topics reviewed are (1) needs of various populations; (2) the impact of racial identity on self-perception; (3) needs for specialized training; and (4) specialized methods of treatment.

In 1991, the American Counseling Association (ACA) determined that the culture-relevancy of multicultural or fourth force psychology had earned its place in counseling and psychotherapy following psychodynamic, behavioral, and humanistic traditions. Then too, psychological publications had begun to include culture as an important factor in the counseling process due largely to the pressure of the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and various special interest groups who have been undervalued and marginalized in the society to the extent that they have been perceived as being deviant from the mainstream of white, middle-class, urban, male measures of normal behavior. Pedersen (1999) noted that fourth force counseling is best described as a broad definition of culture including all salient features of personal identity that provide a psychological construct adaptable to contemporary theories of counseling and psychological intervention. However, and operationally speaking, fourth force counseling is also referred to as a process by which a trained professional from one cultural/ethnic/racial background interacts with a client of a different cultural/ethnic/racial background for the purpose of promoting the client's cognitive, emotional, psychological, and/or spiritual development. One advantage of the term "multicultural" here is that it can be applied to a wide range of multiple groups without grading, comparing, or ranking them as better or worse than one another, and without denying the very distinct and complementary or even contradictory perspectives that each group brings with it. Each member of the U. S. society belongs to such an arrangement, having over time developed from different cultures from different environments and in different roles. Here, within-group differences are at least as important as between-group differences when viewed from the multicultural perspective. Yet, reality suggests that when viewed across cultures, the traditional counseling models have been shown to be less successful when applied to minority groups than to those of the dominant culture. Central to the multicultural counseling perspective in mental health are the specialized approaches and methods used by agents of change.

Most traditional counseling and mental-health training programs include explicitly or implicitly some type of orientation or set of assumptions about culture and race that the trainee should be taught. Typically, this knowledge and, in some cases, these competencies, are developed so the trainee would have a considerable understanding as a competent mental-health counselor and practitioner when working with members of the society who are culturally distinct from himself or herself. However, Sue (1990) pointed out that traditional or Western counseling and psychotherapeutic training programs tend too often to assume universal (-etic) applications of their concepts and goals to the point of excluding culture-specific (-emic) views. He goes further by saying that counselor-education-training programs have often been accused of fostering "cultural encapsulation." The term encapsulation here refers to (a) the substitution of model stereotypes for the real world; (b) the disregard of cultural variations in a dogmatic adherence to some universal notion of truth; and (c) the use of a technique-oriented definition of the counseling process.

Pedersen (1997) noted a report from the National Advisory Mental Health Council ( NAMHC, 1996) documenting the extent of cultural encapsulation of mental-health services relative to crosscultural counseling.

      • First, from an anthropological perspective, crosscultural research has demonstrated that cultural beliefs influence the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness.
      • Second, the diagnosis of mental illness differs across cultures.
      • Third, research has revealed differences in how individuals express symptoms in different cultural contexts.
      • Fourth, culturally based variations in diagnosis vary according to the diagnostic categories relevant to the majority population.
      • Fifth, Most providers come from a majority culture whereas most clients are members of minority cultures.

From this perspective, the results suggest that counselor roles are rigidly defined, implanting an implicit belief in a universal concept of "healthy" and "normal." Hence, the universal definitions of "healthy" and "normal" that are accepted unquestionably in most graduate programs tend to guide the delivery of mental health services to its future practitioners. However, the culturally encapsulated counselor may also become a tool of his or her own dominant political, social, or economic value system. In other words, ethnocentric notions of adjustment tend to ignore inherent cultural/class values, allowing the encapsulated person to be blind to his or her own cultural baggage. Earlier, Sue (1990) noted that when considering crosscultural counseling, "The net result has been that mental health services have demanded a type of racial and cultural conformity in client behavior that has been demeaning and that has denied different ethnic minorities the right to their cultural heritage" (p. 13). That is why all counseling and mental health programs should advocate the following to their training:
(a) that counselor training programs at all levels provided information on the political nature of the practice of mental health counseling;
(b) that professionals need to own their value positions;
(c) that client populations be a part of determining what is done to them;
(d) that evaluation of training programs include not only content, but also an evaluation of the graduates as a follow-up their training; and
(e) that continuing professional development occur beyond the receipt of any advanced degree.
Put another way, those persons who aspire to become counseling professionals must become more sensitive to the issues of those persons who are viewed as marginalized socially, politically, and economically, as well as culturally in the society that they are to work.

Summarily, fourth-force counseling (e.g., multicultural or crosscultural counseling) attempts to combine the alternatives of universalism and relativism by explaining behavior both in terms of those culturally learned perspectives that are unique to one's particular background and the search for common-ground universals that are shared across cultures. Hence, this course will review new paradigms of this fourth-force phenomenon in areas of psychosocial development and the practice of multicultural or crosscultural counseling and psychotherapy as they relate to ethnic and cultural awareness.

Learning Goals

Several broad goals will guide your learning activities and demonstration of knowledge in this course.

GOAL I. Understand such factors as age, gender, sexual orientation, education, family values, religious and spiritual values, and socioeconomic status and their impact on those persons in counseling relative to the social interaction processes with professionals from different racial and cultural backgrounds in a multicultural society.

GOAL II. To examine how professional counseling practice is influenced by the increase of ethnic minority clients and how the psychosocial development of these clients influences the therapeutic relationship.

GOAL III. To explore in depth several models of multicultural or relational counseling and their clinical applications, strengths, and limitations.

GOAL IV. To apply knowledge of psychosocial development, cross-cultural perception, and historical assumptions to an understanding of needs of various populations and needs for specialized training in counseling with ethnic minorities.


Complete  the following options for your written assignment:


Select a specific client/patient or group that is of particular interest to you and not of your cultural background. It may be a population that you work with now or one that you anticipate working with in the future as a counselor. Design an intervention procedure and strategy for helping the population that would include the following elements:

1. A clear assessment of the population's counseling needs.

2. An overview of the purpose and anticipated goals in the counseling strategy that are needed for working with a particular population.

3. The steps for implementing an intervention strategy including barriers and/or hindrances in counseling the population you choose.

4. Determine post-implementation assessment or evaluation outcome(s) of the strategy utilized for intervention with the population you choose.

When confirming that you have selected Option A, request information from the instructor on the length and formatting for the documentation you will provide.


A major research paper identifying and analyzing the main concepts, ideas, and/or strategies as specified in the course objectives of this course. This paper must demonstrate your analysis of the literature for and against your position, your ability to analyze the appropriateness of the selected literature, and your ability to relate your position to your profession.


An individualized project designed in consultation with, and approved by, the course instructor. This project must demonstrate an understanding of the objectives of this course. It must also demonstrate your ability to analyze the literature on the subject you have chosen, your ability to analyze its appropriateness to the individualized project, and your ability to make judgments about the project's relevance to your profession.


Learning Resources

Required Textbooks

Axelson, J. A. (1999). Counseling and development in a multicultural society. Monterey, CA: Brooks/Cole.

Ponterotto, J. G., Casa, J. M., Suzuki, L. A., & Alexander, C. M. (2001). Handbook of multicultural counseling. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Optional Textbooks

Pedersen, P. (1999). Multiculturalism as a fourth force. Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel.

Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (1999). Counseling the culturally different. New York: Wiley & Sons.

Ford, R. C. (1981). Counseling strategies for ethnic minority students. Tacoma, WA: U. Puget Sound Bookstore.

Required Journals and Monographs

Arredondo, P. (1999). Multicultural counseling competencies as tools to address oppression and racism. Journal of Counseling & Development, 77(1), 102-108.

Das, A. K. (1995). Rethinking multicultural counseling: Implications for counselor education. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74, 45-52.

Glauser, A. S. (1999). Legacies of racism. Journal of Counseling &Development, 77(1), 62-67.

Helms. J. E. (1990). Development of white racial identity inventory. In J. E. Helms (Ed.), Black and white Racial identity: Theory, research, and practice. (pp. 66-80). Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Leong, F. T. L., & Santiago-Rivera, A. (1999). Climbing the multiculturalism summit: Challenges and pitfalls. In P. Pedersen (Ed.), Multiculturalism as a fourth force (pp. 61-72). Philadelphia, PA: Brunner/Mazel.

Locke, D. C., & Kiselica, M. S. (1999). Pedagogy of possibilities: Teaching about racism in multicultural counseling courses. Journal of Counseling & Development, 77(1), 80-86.

Pedersen, P. (1988). Four dimensions of multicultural skill training. In Paul Pedersen (Ed.), A handbook for developing multicultural awareness (pp. 143-158). Alexandria VA: American Association for Counseling and Development.

Pedersen, P. (1988). Developing Multiculturally Skilled Counselors. In Paul Pedersen (Ed.), A handbook for developing multicultural awareness (pp. 159-167). Alexandria VA: American Association for Counseling and Development.

Pedersen, P. (1991). Multiculturalism as a generic approach to counseling. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 6-12.

Pedersen, P. (1997). The cultural context of the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 6-12.

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

In addition, learners may want to review the following Internet resources on multiculturalism:

Fong, M. L. (1994). Multicultural issues in supervision. ERIC Digests. Available:http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed372346.html.

Gomez, R. A. (1991). Teaching in a multicultural perspective., ERIC Digests. Available: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed339548.html.

Lankar, B. A. (1994). Cultural diversity andtTeamwork. ERIC Digests. Available: http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed377311.html.

Webb, M. (1990). Multicultural education in elementary and secondary schools. ERIC Digests. http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed327613.html.