Struggling with Location: A Collaborative Qualitative Study of Multicultural Counseling Competence in U.S. Psychology

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 1-1-2004


Campus Only

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Russell A. Walsh

Committee Member

Constance Fischer

Committee Member

Leswin Laubscher


collaborative research, multicultural counseling competence, multiculturalism, psychotherapy


This is a co-authored qualitative study that examines the intersection of "multicultural counseling competence" (MCC) and psychotherapists' investments in identity. Within U.S. psychology, there has been a growing effort to develop empirically supported treatments for minority populations, more elaborate descriptions of specific cultural groups, and assessment tools to measure psychotherapists' cultural competence. Although MCC seems simply to point to a skill set consisting of knowledge, awareness and beliefs, embedded within it are a series of assumptions that remain widely unquestioned. Because these assumptions involve how we define the project of psychotherapy and more importantly how we define the individual, culture, identity and difference, they are in need of examination.

Each researcher interviewed three psychotherapists about the role of multiculturalism in their work. After completing individual analyses, the researchers exchanged their results and offered an analysis of the other's results (and perspective). In light of these responses, each researcher completed a revised analysis. An examination of participant interviews and the research collaboration demonstrated the ways individuals and groups are positioned in relation to one another through differences.

The narratives of the participants and the researchers illustrated the effects of sorting and grouping people by categories of difference (e.g., race, sex, and sexual orientation), the reifying of particular identities as a set of qualities an individual possesses based on cultural affiliation(s), the masking of the dynamics of racism and social hierarchies, the illusion that there are finite and static sets of multicultural proficiencies that will come to rest in an individual clinician or researcher, and the treatment of multiculturalism as an individual and not a relational endeavor. The implications of these findings for multicultural efforts within U.S. psychology are considered, and the effects of this study on each researcher are explored.





This document is currently not available here.