Multicultural strategy use and the impact of physical appearance in psychotherapy with multiracial clients
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Over the past several decades, psychology and other related mental health fields have increasingly attended to multicultural competence. Multicultural treatment guidelines have been created and graduate programs typically incorporate at least one multiculturally-oriented course as a required component of training. However, training methods are inconsistent and the extent to which psychologists and other mental health professionals are actually incorporating multicultural skills into their work with specific groups is unknown. The population of Multiracial people in the United States has also steadily increased over the past several decades. Much of the racial multicultural competence research has been generalized to work with Multiracial people, though results were typically normed within samples consisting of monoracial people of color. Multiracial people typically report unique experiences of oppression and identity development not common to monoracial people, therefore these generalizations may be inappropriate and inadequate for treatment. This study assessed levels of multicultural competence among psychologists and other mental health professionals and compared their application of multicultural strategies in psychotherapy with Multiracials compared to White and monoracials of color. Additionally, this study assessed differential strategy use between White counselors and counselors of color. Finally, as the appearance of Multiracial people can be highly variable, this study assessed the impact of the physical appearance of Multiracial clients by comparing reported multicultural strategy use with a darker-skinned versus lighter-skinned Multiracial person. Participants reported their perceived levels of multicultural competence, and multicultural strategy use based on vignettes of clients of differing races. The study found no significant differences between levels of multicultural strategy use based upon the race or physical appearance of the client and also found no significant differences in levels of reported strategy use between White counselors and counselors of color. The study found measures that assess multicultural awareness and skills to be significantly predictor correlated with multicultural strategy use. Post-hoc analyses found that the race of Multiracial clients was incorrectly identified by counselors significantly more frequently than the race of monoracial clients. Implications for theory, practice, and research are discussed.