The Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), has produced guidelines and resources that allows counselors to build upon their self-awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs on multicultural skills (Sue, Arredondo & McDavies, 1992). The dynamic of the guidelines given by the AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies, present counselors with the concept of becoming culturally aware of diverse groups and their worldviews. According to the AMCD (1996), the purpose is to acknowledge and diversity and the multicultural concept of society; to strengthen the rights and psychological health of individuals. Having said that, there are strengths and limitations of the Multicultural Counseling Competencies along with recommendations which build on the guidelines and resources of the AMCD.
Strengths and Limitations of AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies
In view of every great counselor is acknowledging yet being able to remain aware of strengths and weaknesses on topics that can impact their work is key (Sue, Arredondo & McDavies, 1992). In other words, a strength that I have acknowledged is the skills portion. Although the AMCD is broken up into the counselor’s self-awareness, client worldview, counseling relationship and counseling and advocacy intervention each section provides specific sets of skills. These skills allow the counselor to comprehend and acknowledge cultural competencies such as education, beliefs, values, behaviors, and worldviews (AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies 1996). The skills presented guide counselors to enhance their understanding of culturally diverse groups. Furthermore, it guides the counselors to build and maintain their own biases and beliefs that can allow interference in their work. With that being said, another strength is that this allows the counselor to build upon their worldviews and focuses on steps that need to be taken for culturally diverse groups which will provide the client with an understanding and warmth towards their culture, race, and ethnicity (AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies 1996). This will ultimately allow counselors to take the appropriate approach to guiding the client with respect in regards to their culture. However, with strength comes limitations.
One limitation that can be addressed is the understanding and education of being culturally competent. Although AMCD focuses on culture, ethnicity, and race at the level and understanding of cultural groups (Weinrach & Thomas, 2004), it still does not give a clear understanding of what it means to be culturally competent (Sue & Sue, 2016). It provides the resources and guidelines and some skills yet it does not provide the tools to help you apply the guidelines and resources. With that in mind another limitation that can be an issue while it is critical and important to focus on culture, ethnicity, beliefs, and values there are other aspects that are just as important to becoming and understanding what it means to be culturally competent. For instance gender, sexual identity, social classes etc., are other competencies that can assist a counselor in becoming more culturally competent. Staying focused on the basic competencies can possibly deter a client who may have trouble with their social status and identity (Weinrach & Thomas, 2004). It can leave them feeling alienated and go against the purpose and guidelines of the AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies.
With any great resource or guideline to help counselors, there is always room for improvement and recommendations. One recommendation that I would make is actually taking the guidelines and resources given and applying them. Allow a training/application that tests the counselor’s competency on culture to make sure they have a full understanding and skills required to provide to clients of that nature (Jone, Begay, Nakagawa, Cevasco, & Sit, 2016). This will allow the counselor to not only demonstrate their competence but, to apply it as well. It will enrich the relationship and environment for the client which will allow them to feel more comfortable and at ease.
Another recommendation that I believe would be key is to strictly use the AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies as a reference and general guideline to assist counselors. We should allow ourselves as counselors to maintain competencies and take in the meaning and understanding. As a counselor, there are so many topics, issues, concerns, rules, and regulations that we have to allow ourselves to take in that we may not understand and get correct initially. No one knows how long it actually takes to become culturally competent and if we ever actually do. Furthermore, as counselors we will never know the full benefit of being culturally competent because cultures change, beliefs change, and values changes, however, we have to use the tools and resources that are provided to us and make sure we use them in the appropriate manner that will strengthen ourselves and our clients.
AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies are guidelines and a resource that helps counselors comprehend cultural competency. It provides counselors with basic knowledge of awareness (self and of the client), worldviews, biases, relationships, and advocacy to help maintain balance with culturally diverse groups. Like every great guide and resource, it has its strengths and limitations that assist but can also hinder counselors. We can stick with the understanding that counselors or anyone can be competent with the right tools, education, and willingness to learn and expand outside of the guidelines, counselors can build a strong understanding of culturally diverse groups.
AMCD multicultural counseling competences. (1996). Retrieved from http://www.counseling.org/Resources/Competencies/Multcultural_Competencies.pdf
Jones, J. M., Kawena Begay, K., Nakagawa, Y., Cevasco, M., & Sit, J. (2016). Multicultural Counseling Competence Training: Adding Value With Multicultural Consultation. Journal Of Educational & Psychological Consultation, 26(3), 241-265. doi:10.1080/10474412.2015.1012671.
Sue, D. W., Arrendondo, P., & McDavis, R. J. (1992). Multicultural counseling competencies and standards: a call to the profession. Journal Of Counseling And Development, (4), 477.
Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2016). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Weinrach, S. G., & Thomas, K. R. (2004). The AMCD Multicultural Counseling Competencies: A Critically Flawed Initiative. Journal of Mental Health Counseling,26(1), 81-93.
· Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2016). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (7th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
o Chapter 5, “The Impact of Systemic Oppression: Counselor Credibility and Client Worldviews” (pp. 145-178)
o Chapter 11, “Racial/Cultural Identity Development in People of Color: Counseling Implications” (pp. 355-388)
o Chapter 12, “White Racial Identity Development: Therapeutic Implications” (pp. 389-420)
· AMCD multicultural counseling competences. (1996). Retrieved from http://www.counseling.org/Resources/Competencies/Multcultural_Competencies.pdf
· Multicultural and Social Justice Counseling Competencies. (2015). Retrieved October 27, 2015, from http://www.counseling.org/docs/default-source/competencies/multicultural-and-social-justice-counseling-competencies.pdf?sfvrsn=20
· McIntosh, P. (1990). White privilege: Unpacking the invisible knapsack. Independent School, 49(2), 31–35.