Multicultural Competence: Not a Destination, But a Journey
Written by Dr. Misty M. Ginicola
With the level of conflicts in today’s world, the importance of having multicultural competence is clear. From race conflicts to political divisiveness, religious freedom laws to discrimination of gender and sexuality minorities, the current social climate is replete with cultural conflicts of all types. Within this context, it may be tempting to shy away from these heated cultural discussions or to angrily respond to conflict-ridden memes posted on social networking. It can be confusing to know how we should respond both personally and professionally to these types of crises.
As counselors, we know that we must be well versed in numerous cultural norms, know how to engage clients from many different cultural backgrounds, and assess and provide counseling interventions for clients that is applicable for their cultures. Many people think that with enough training that they will achieve multicultural competence and know how to respond both personally and professionally, seeing it as an important destination and milestone. However, multicultural competence is not something that can be fully achieved; it requires constant learning, consistent self-awareness, active listening and reflection, self-care and responsive advocacy.  In this way, multicultural competence is much more of a journey.
The new multicultural and social justice counseling competencies (Ratts et al., 2015) recognize four over-arching categories within their new model: Attitudes and Beliefs, Knowledge, Skills, and Action. Counselors also need to be able to be skilled at developing Counselor Self-Awareness, Understanding Client’s Worldview, Counseling Relationship, and Counseling and Advocacy Interventions. Within these contexts, counselors must also understand the delicate interactions between marginalized and privileged identities for both counselor and client.
For the next several months, we will explore one component of this new model each month with links to counseling resources. Next month, we will begin with Developing Counselor Self-Awareness that can help counselors begin their journey towards multicultural competence.
You can find the 2015 American Counseling Association Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies at: