Developing Cultural Competency

By all accounts, diversity has become a major emphasis of clinical and counseling psychology. Diversity education is a core component of the American Psychological Association's accreditation process. Additionally, several state psychological boards require classes in culture as a prerequisite to licensure. Unfortunately, some graduate programs fall short of teaching students how to apply their training to diverse populations.

In the current issue of the gradPSYCH magazine, Rebecca Clay highlights several ways graduate students can develop cultural competency on their own. Highlights include:

  1. Learning about yourself.
  2. Learning about different cultures.
  3. Interacting with diverse groups.
  4. Attending diversity-focused conferences.
  5. Lobbying your department.

I found this except particularly helpful:

Get started by exploring your own historical roots, beliefs and values, says Robert C. Weigl, PhD, a psychologist at the Franklin Center in Alexandria, Va., who described a protocol for such self-reflection in a 2009 paper in the International Journal of Intercultural Relations (Vol. 33, No. 4). The eight-step process includes such exercises as describing your ancestors and their experiences, thinking about how your family functions as a group, and characterizing your most representative style of thought as emotional or rational, "me-centered" or "we-centered," and the like. Self-assessment makes participants realize the pervasive role culture plays in their lives, says Weigl. It also makes people aware of their own biases while sparking open-minded curiosity about other cultures.

Read the full article for more details, including the story behind my biggest mistake as a trainee.

DiversityAli Mattu1 Comment