Multicultural competence and the process and outcome of counseling
Bathje, Geoffrey Joseph
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Historically, cultural variables and macrosystemic issues have not been sufficiently addressed in psychological theory, practice, and research. In response, an effort to define and operationalize multicultural competencies emerged (Arredondo et al, 1996; Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992; Sue et al, 1982). Much research has been conducted on multicultural competence (MCC) over the past three decades, though there is still a need to conduct further research of the role of multicultural competence within actual counseling relationships. The present study was designed to better elaborate the relationship between MCC and several common factor therapy and outcome variables within actual cross-cultural counseling relationships. Participants rated several variables related to their present or most recent counseling experience, including therapist variables (MCC and counselor credibility), therapeutic process variables (working alliance, therapeutic relationship, social provisions, and hope/expectancy), and therapeutic outcomes (termination status, satisfaction with counseling, and perceived change). Findings indicated that MCC was significantly more strongly correlated with all measured variables (except perceived change) within cross-cultural counseling relationships than in culture-matched relationships, though MCC was significantly positively correlated with each variable regardless of cultural match. Through a two-way ANOVA, MCC was found to be associated with higher ratings on the other measured variables whether the relationship was cross-cultural or culture-matched. Only the therapeutic relationship was significantly impacted by the interaction of counselor’s level of MCC within cross-cultural dyads. One-way ANOVA analysis revealed lower ratings of MCC to have a large effect (.383) on premature termination within cross-cultural relationships, and a small but significant effect (.083) in culture-matched relationships. Lastly, path analysis supported a model where MCC was treated as a therapist factor influencing process factors, which in turn influenced therapeutic outcomes. Similar models fit the data for culture-matched and cross-cultural relationships, though the strength and number of significant paths leading from MCC were greater in the cross-cultural model. The findings provide support for the importance of multicultural competence to the process and outcome of counseling, particularly within cross-cultural counseling relationships.