Multicultural Competence for Counseling Students Experiencing Cultural Immersion

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Virginia Tech


A number of studies have examined how counselor educators can facilitate counselor development of multicultural competence within the context of graduate counseling programs (e.g., Chu-Lien Chao, 2012; Constantine, 2001; Constantine, Juby, and Liang, 2001; Dickson and Jepsen, 2007; Sodowsky et al., 1998). Much less research has focused on counselor development occurring in students' personal lives, yet some evidence has shown that students report the impact of extracurricular experiences on counselor development (Coleman, 2006; Furr and Carroll, 2003; Rønnestad and Skovholt, 2003). Many qualitative studies have demonstrated positive effects of cultural immersion experiences, yet much less research in this area has utilized the quantitative measures related to cultural awareness. Few studies have also examined the effects of living among a different culture instead of visiting a different culture short term. After a thorough review of the literature on cultural immersion experiences, this study was designed to fill the gap that presently exists in quantitative findings exploring differences in multicultural competence and universal-diverse orientation, which is an awareness and accepting attitude for those who come from diverse backgrounds. The sample for the study consisted of students experiencing cultural immersion by means of relocation for their graduate training program. Additional analysis examined how universal-diverse orientation and duration of graduate training predicted multicultural competence scores. The results were not significant showing any differences in either multicultural competence or universal-diverse orientation scores based on cultural immersion. Similarly, no differences were found for either of these variables based on amount of multicultural training either. One finding that was statistically significant was a strong, positive correlation, as well as predictive ability, between universal-diverse orientation and multicultural knowledge and awareness. Implications of the findings could be applicable to clinicians and counselor education programs. By fostering more universal-diverse orientation, counselor educators could work towards increasing multicultural competence as well. This study was found to have some limitations, primarily a small sample size for quantitative analysis. These results do have implications for future research to continue studying multicultural competence, universal-diverse orientation, and cultural immersion.



multicultural competence, universal-diverse orientation, immersion, counseling