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Wedding & Corsini: Ch. 15

1. Darld Sue, Ph.D., On Multicultural Competence.

2. Ken Hardy, Ph.D., Psychological Residuals from Slavery
3. Sue Johnson, Ph.D., Emotion Focused Therapy

Discussion Post:
Briefly chart the history of Multicultural psychology and explain how Multicultural psychotherapy works. Integrate material from one or more of the video contents in your discussion along with the reading.



Multicultural psychology means developing cultural competency to work with different racial and ethnic groups (Wing Sue, n.d.) Historically, psychologists have been white men of European descent so it makes sense that psychotherapy is based on this particular ethnic group (and gender). However, the United States continues to increase its diversity. According to the 2019 US census, 24% of the population are non-white, but of course, this does not account for the number of individuals who were not counted in the census. With the continuous increase in a multicultural population and the need for mental health services assumed to be no different across populations, psychology has not kept up with the changes. Hence, the development of multicultural psychology. It was developed to meet the needs of individuals from cultures that have not been studied or taken into account in traditional psychotherapy. Additionally, it aims to promote social change by promoting empowerment and focusing on the strengths of differences rather than the weaknesses (Wedding & Corsini, 2014). Much of its origins come from various forms of anthropology and psychology working together, including looking at methods of folk healing (Wedding & Corsini, 2014). Other influences include the study of oppression, colonialism, and social movements (eg. women’s rights movement, LGBTQ movement, etc.)

Wing Sue (n.d.) found frequently in his practice that clients of color may be pathologized for differences in cultural values. One example is that traditional psychology espouses the belief that as children grow, they become more individualized, moving away from the family into their own unit. Deviation from this can be pathologized into immaturity or dependency. However, for most cultural groups outside of European origin, individualism is not a prized value. Instead, the value is placed on family and group belonging and contribution. This is a big divide in psychology which makes it unsurprising that many people of color do not seek out mental health services even when they could be beneficial.

Multicultural psychology emphasizes the three levels of identity: the universal identity (we are all human), individuality (we are all unique), and group identity (race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, etc.) (Wing Sue, n.d.). Individuals are made up of many different contexts that influence their development and growth. Therapists must acknowledge this in order to create a meaningful connection. Therapists also need to be aware of the social context of various ethnic/racial groups, their experiences of oppression in the world, and to be comfortable discussing such matters. Additionally, therapists are expected to become aware of their own worldview, to examine their attitude towards differences in culture, to learn about different worldviews and cultures, and to develop skills necessary to relate and interact with those from other cultures/worldviews (Wedding & Corsini, 2014). A variety of modalities are used in treatment. The primary methodologies appear to involve particular sentiments rather than a prescribed treatment plan. Cultural empathy and knowledge, the ability to be comfortable discuss issues of race/ethnicity/oppression, and leaving assumptions at the door are all necessary.


United States Census Bureau. (2019, July). Quick facts United States. Retrieved from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/US/PST045219

Wedding, D. & Corsini, R.  (2014). Current psychotherapies (10th ed.). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.

Wing Sue, D. (n.d.) Watch: Multicultural competence in counseling and psychotherapy . Retrieved from http://www.psychotherapy.net.tcsedsystem.idm.oclc.org/stream/tcs%20/video?vid=281&clip=cs970ce5034460

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