Education | Cross-Cultural Counseling
G575 | 5801 | Dr. Chalmer Thompson
Cross-cultural or multicultural counseling/psychotherapy research,
theory, and practice took prominence in the United States in the late
1960s and early 1970s, prompted by the civil rights movement and
subsequent social movements of the time. Since its inception, mental
health practitioners have been urged to consider how culture, race and
other forces related to human diversity and oppression impact
themselves, their clients, and more generally, the practice of
counseling and psychotherapy. Multicultural counseling can include
such factors as race, ethnicity, social class, gender, intellectual
ability, religious preference, physical ability, and sexual
orientation. In this course, we will address each of these factors
but the focus will be on race, ethnicity, and their intersection with
other factors already mentioned.
Underscored in this course are the following assumptions: (1) the
development of culturally responsive practitioners is a lifelong
process; (2) growth is difficult and strewn with resistances; (3) key
ingredients of change in personal development, such as risk-taking,
reality-testing, self-reflection, and moral decision-making, are
essential to learning; (4) "multicultural" learning is
transformational in nature; and (5) professional excellence in
counseling and psychotherapy can be achieved by the practitioner's
ability to integrate often-painful aspects about reality into one's
The objectives in the course are as follows. In the course, students
1. definitions of terms and constructs related to human diversity and
their relevance to psychological functioning and development;
2. life experiences of diverse groups that are inclusive of their
sociocultural and sociopolitical perspectives;
3. how the development of enlightened perspectives on societal
oppression has an impact on counseling and psychotherapy for all
4. strategies for working effectively with diverse individuals,
families, and groups in a counseling and psychotherapy context; and
5. ethical considerations relevant to the integration of
"multicultural learning" in the practice of counseling and
Readings and Rationales for their Selection
Helms, J. E., & Cook, D. A. (1999). Using race and culture in
counseling and psychotherapy: Theory and process. Boston, MA: Allyn
I've come across a lot of different books for a course like this, and
this one is by far the best. I hope that your reading of this book
will help generate some thinking on a number of different topics as it
has done for me.
Cyrus, V. (1993). Experiencing race, class, and gender in the United
States (3rd ed.). Mountain View, CA: Mayfield.
I'm taking a bit of a non-traditional bent in this course by assigning
readings that are narrative in nature. Psychology is, at core, a
study of human action, thought, and beliefs, and what tends to occur
all too frequently is an oversight of the perspectives of different
people based on their sociocultural and sociopolitical experiences.
As you will learn in the course, these experiences are embedded in
their socialization and likewise, in their psychological functioning.
Thompson, C. E., & Carter, R. T. (1997). Racial identity theory:
Applications to individual, group, and organizational interventions.
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
This book offers practical illustrations of how psychologists apply a
theory on racism in their practices as therapists, supervisors,
consultants, and organizational/forensic psychologists.
Ball, E. Slaves in the family. New York: Bantam.
How do Whites evolve a positive, non-racist identity? Ball's story is
about his journey and provides an excellent illustration of what this
journey can entail.
Coles, R. (1994). The story of Ruby Bridges. New York: Scholastic.
Because all of us are socialized as racial, gendered, and classed
beings, it is important to recognize that experiences in childhood
combine to shape our understanding of and approach to reality.
Critical literacy is one pathway to helping children understand and
approach reality in ways that are non-racist and promoting of human
Fordham, S. A. (1996). Blacked out: Dilemmas of race, identity, and
Capital High. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.
Weis, L. (1990). Working class without work: High school students in
deindustrializing economy. New York: Routledge.
Fordham and Weis are anthropologists who studied how identities of
children are shaped by school and community environments. These are
very powerful works and will serve as illustrations of how you can
construct your own ethnographies. Which leads us to. . .
Describing Your Socialization as a Raced, Classed, and Gendered Being
A portion of your grade will be based on a critical ethnography of
your socialization as a raced, classed, and gendered being. A
critical ethnography is an examination of a phenomenon, in this case
your socialization, that is inclusive of an examination of the ways in
which sociopolitical forces shape it. I am asking you, therefore, to
explore your development as a racial being, a gendered being
(inclusive of sexual orientation), and as a classed being based on the
community or communities in which you lived and the messages you
received from significant others. I know that the distinctions of
race, gender, and class are artificial, but at some later point in
this paper, you are required to integrate these different components
into a whole. We will talk more about this assignment, and I will
provide you with some assignments that will help direct you in its
Why an ethnography? One of the things that has consistently emerged
in the literature is that structural disadvantage is perpetuated when
people with good intentions fail to systematically contemplate the
contradictions between what they fundamentally believe (i.e., the
Golden Rule, equality among people, etc.) and their actions,
behaviors, and beliefs about certain policies and practices. I'll
explain this a lot more thoroughly during this course, but suffice it
to say right now that this failure has to do with a social
conditioning process. Too often, people who face the contradictions
can begin to feel poorly about themselves, angry at others (including
me, the instructor) for surfacing or resurfacing negative feelings, or
even enraged, often without knowing who to target or how to go about
relieving the rage. Critical ethnography is a way to promote growth
because it urges the individual to reveal some of the sources that
inform his or her identity. In class, you will have an opportunity to
talk about your ethnography if you choose to do so.
Resistance is defined as behaviors that can potentially obstruct
learning. Resistance to learning about "multicultural issues" is
likely because these are the issues that can prompt uncomfortable
feelings like anger, guilt, shame, or confusion. I am asking each
student to identify an area of resistance to learning about the issues
covered in this course, identity ways to challenge the resistance, and
then do at least 5 things actively to expand your understanding of
this resistance area. I am not suggesting here that you work on
changing your mind about an issue but rather, to view the identified
area more complexly.
EVERYONE HAS RESISTANCE. It isn't positive or negative. It simply
is. Coming up with your resistance may be difficult at first, but as
you read the textbook and some of the narratives, view the films, and
reflect on your ethnography, you will find yourself coming up with
ideas and questions that may serve as blocks to learning. The article
by Kathleen Ryan in the Cyrus textbook on page 400 can give you some
ideas about resistance.
For example, one person may believe that the best way to be effective
is to be color-blind and to believe that all this multicultural stuff
is really for the birds. This would be resistance because this person
has essentially dismissed learning in favor of what they perceive to
be a more humanistic way of behaving and being with clients. One way
to test this resistance is to try to determine if in fact, the
lectures, readings, and so forth are actually anti-humanistic. One
may discuss it with a friend (and this person should choose someone
whom he/she believes will not simply agree with that particular
perspective). Rather than going the intellectual route, some people
might decide to test out some of the material that counters the notion
of color-blindness and take an informal "survey" of how they've done.
Let's take another example of resistance and ways to overcome it.
Let's say a person rationalizes that she ought to fraternize solely
with people who are similar to her and conversely, stay away from
people who aren't similar because this makes her uncomfortable. One
behavioral way to test this resistance is to visit places that will
expose her to people who are different than her. Perhaps a Latino man
who is hesitant around Asian people will visit a Korean church in
town. Yet another example is that of a White person who believes that
the perspectives of people of color are not valid as those of Whites.
This person may choose to view "Lead Story" (a news program told from
the perspectives of Black journalists on BET), read Black magazines,
or listen to a lecture by a scholar of color. Each of these examples
relates to issues of race/ethnicity, but you can also choose other
characteristics, like sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, or
Your assignment is to identify at one resistance, develop at least
five strategies to test it and understand it more fully, and then to
implement the strategies. Please keep in mind that you may be
involved in some "minor" strategies as you go through the course, such
as tuning in more to commentary of race-related issues by news media,
family or friends. However, the assignment is that you select
strategies that are deliberate and purposeful. The less
"intellectual" and more hands-on and interactive the experience, the
better. This assignment should be about 9-10 pages in length.
Calculation of Course Requirements
Midterm Examination 100
Assignment 1 50
Assignment 2 50
Final Examination 100
F Below 75
Schedule of Events and Readings
Tuesday, 8/28 Introduction and overview
Helms & Cook, chapters 1-3
Tuesday, 9/4 History of psychology's role in societal racism
Helms & Cook, chapters 4-5
In Cyrus: Staples, p. 201; McIntosh, p. 194; Hu-DeHart, p. 164; Ryan,
SUBMIT SOME INITIAL IDEAS ON PROJECTS AND QUESTIONS
Tuesday, 9/11 Sociopolitical histories of original and culture-based
Film: "bell hooks: Cultural Criticism and
Helms & Cook, chapters 6-7
In Cyrus: Wu, p. 37; Altman, p. 99; Lips, p. 76; Southern Poverty Law
Center, p. 223
Tuesday, 9/18 Models of oppression: Avenues for facilitated change
through counseling and psychotherapy
Film: "Multicultural Counseling: Issues of Ethnic Diversity"
The therapy process
Helms & Cook, chapters 8-10
Thompson & Carter, 3-6
SUBMIT "INITIAL YIELDS" PAPER
Tuesday, 9/25 Film: "Multicultural Counseling: Issues of Diversity"
The therapy process, contd.
(Midterm exam will be based on lectures and reading material through
Friday, May 19th)
In Cyrus: Swet, p. 148; Churchill, p. 206; Burk & Shaw, p. 249;
Goldberg, p. 251; Doyle, p. 277; Unknown, p. 285
Tuesday, 10/2 A review of materials and practice by role-playing
MIDTERM EXAMINATION - Take home Tuesday the 31st
Tuesday, 10/9 Group counseling, indigenous healing and applications
of racial identity theory to group and organizational interventions
Helms & Cook, chapters 12-13
Thompson & Carter, chapters 8, 9, 11, & 12
REACTION TO "INITIAL YIELDS" FEEDBACK
Tuesday, 10/16 Conceptions of mental health and therapeutic change
In Cyrus: Daseler, p. 212, Williams, p. 140
Cooper Thompson, p. 95, Levine, p. 55; Nahata, p. 346
Tuesday, 10/23 Inciting change outside of traditional counseling
Film: "Starting Small: Teaching Tolerance" (A Southern Poverty Law
In Cyrus: Chavez, p. 468; Southern Poverty Law Center, p. 472;
Taliman, p. 483; Davis, p. 485
Tuesday, 10/30 What is change? Ingredients to individual change and
their similarities to social change
RESISTANCE PROJECTS DUE BY CLOSE OF DAY
Tuesday, 11/7 What is change? continued
ETHNOGRAPHY PROJECTS DUE BY CLOSE OF DAY
Tuesday, 11/14 PRESENTATIONS, ROLE PLAY SCENARIOS (GROUP WORK)
Tuesday, 11/20 PRESENTATIONS, ROLE PLAY SCENARIOS
Tuesday, 11/27 PRESENTATIONS, ROLE PLAY SCENARIOS
Tuesday, 12/4 PRESENTATIONS AND ROLE PLAYS; LAST DAY OF CLASS; FINAL
EXAM WILL BE DISTRIBUTED
FINAL EXAM IS DUE DECEMBER 11TH BY 4:30 PM. THANK YOU.