Cultural Competence In Assessment And Intervention With Ethnic Minorities: Some Perspectives From Psychology and Social Work

Human Science and Multicultural Assessment Practice

Author(s): Richard H. Dana

Pp: 97-115 (19)

DOI: 10.2174/978160805130411101010097

* (Excluding Mailing and Handling)


The first chapter-- Comprehensive Assessment for a Multicultural Society-- examined contemporary underutilization of conventional assessment, a defining historic function of professional psychology, and introduced comprehensive assessment as a necessary rationale for understanding the unmet mental health and social care needs of increasingly diverse resident populations. This final chapter provides a practice model for multicultural competency training addressing these needs for quality services to racial/ethnic populations within a human science aegis. A contemporary national health care debate invokes private and public sector responsibilities, cost-containment, and provision of insurance coverage for a larger percentage of the population. A similar controversy within professional psychology reflects value paradoxes within the larger society (Sue, 1983) that continue to restrict access to health and social care services for racial/ethnic minorities and poor persons. During the same time period, assessment practice per se has been increasingly disparaged and restricted in managed care while many psychologists continued to use culturally inappropriate monocultural instruments for these populations resulting in incomplete information and misdiagnosis. A societal context of political conservatism, biological determinism, and attribution of problems to persons rather than society in mid-twentieth century America minimized early training resources for cross-cultural psychology, primary prevention, and community (Dana, 1987). Professional psychology training was available historically primarily for White male students. Medical socialization absorbed mental health services within health care and mandated patient compliance for diagnostic rather than evaluative assessment. These beliefs contributed to deficiencies in Boulder model science and practice objectives and were mitigated to a limited extent by subsequent Vail model programs that included women students and professional socialization for community practice (Dana & May, 1987). Ultimately critical ratios of women and racial/ethnic minority students were largely responsible for developing multicultural psychology and providing social justice training in counseling psychology.

An early assessment proposal emphasized the importance and meaning of experienced ownership of this service delivery process as a personal self-efficacy resource contributing to positive learning, healing, and growth outcomes (Dana, 1985). A human science predicated on intentionality, phenomenal level descriptions, and shared endeavor affirmed the necessity for understanding the uses of power, knowledge of self and others, and clinician humanity within a human science professional psychology (Dana, 1984). Human science contributions in other wealthy countries from cultural anthropology, cross-cultural psychology, cultural psychology, indigenous psychology, and multicultural psychology now provide an interdisciplinary framework for an applied psychological science within a global perspective as a moral imperative and national priority.

This chapter presents multicultural assessment practice guidelines predicated on client-clinician power-sharing, an enlarged range of assessment objectives, and quality training consistent with advocacy and responsibility for health, mental health, and social care services for all residents. These specific stepwise guidelines provide essential contents for competent professional services to multicultural populations. Although these guideline components have been repeatedly described in research and practice literature, they have not been systematically or routinely incorporated in assessment training programs designed to provide multicultural assessment competency. These ingredients include measurement theory, cultural knowledge, language skills, social etiquette and communication styles, interviewing, instruments, test interpretation, reports, and ethics.

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