Multicultural Career Counseling: A National Survey of Competencies and Practices (Survey)
Multicultural competencies are essential to effective practice in counseling psychology (Vera & Speight, 2003). Over the past 20 years, there has been increasing attention paid to the mission of conducting research, training practitioners, and developing practice guidelines that better meet the needs of underrepresented and oppressed groups. The development of multicultural counseling skills in helping professionals has been the subject of substantial research and instrument development, and several important models have been developed (Fischer, Jome, & Atkinson, 1998; Helms, 1995; Sue et al., 1998; Trevino, 1996). As a specialty area within the larger field of counseling, career counseling has also recognized the critical importance of cultural competence. Vocational researchers have noted that career counseling was formulated by White scholars (Fouad & Bingham, 1995) and is based on a framework of masculine and Western European values of individuality, self-determination, the centrality of work, separation between work and family, and a linear career development process (Cook, Heppner, & O’Brien, 2002), which may be irrelevant to or in conflict with the values of clients not belonging to dominant groups. Vocational counselors have endeavored to understand and develop models for the career counseling process within a cultural framework (Arthur & McMahon, 2005; Byars-Winston & Fouad, 2006; Fouad & Bingham, 1995; Leong & Hartung, 1997) and have developed multiculturally appropriate interventions (Clark, Severy, & Sawyer, 2004; Hershenson, 2005; Ponterotto, Rivera, Sueyoshi, 2000). Nevertheless, there is a nearly 100-year tradition of empirically based vocational theories used to conceptualize clients and develop interventions that pays little or no attention to clients’ contextual factors and the interaction between the counselors’ and clients’ experiences and worldviews (Savickas, 2003). More research is needed to determine whether and how these cultural frameworks are used. In The Psychology of Working, Blustein (2006) argued that in every known culture, work is a primary factor in the well-being of people, and in the introduction to this book, Paul Wachtel noted that work is one of the important ways in which dimensions of diversity, such as race/ethnicity, class, and gender, are enacted in today’s world. Culturally competent career counselors are in a unique position to support clients in finding and maintaining satisfying work and to help clients who have been traditionally marginalized to cope with workplace issues, such as discrimination or racism. The converse may also be true. Counseling that ignores the cultural context of clients, which may include inappropriate assessment (Fouad, 1995), risks being irrelevant, or worse, harmful to clients (Blustein, 2006; Fouad & Bingham, 1995). Thus, a critical issue for the field of vocational counseling is whether and how multicultural competence is infused into the daily work of its practitioners.