In 2002, in response to the need for the profession of psychology to integrate awareness, knowledge, and skills of the cultural dynamics that present themselves in a person’s mental health, the American Psychological Association developed Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change. These were part of a 22-year endeavor to help our profession reflect knowledge and skills needed in the midst of “dramatic, historic sociopolitical changes in U.S. society,” as well the increasingly diverse range of clients entering therapy.
The initial guidelines were largely influenced by the work of Derald Wing Sue, Thomas Parham, and Allen Ivey. The Task Force, a committed group of scholars affiliated with APA Division 17 (Counseling Psychology) and Division 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Culture, Ethnicity and Race), represented the writing team for the monumental document. These included Ivey, Nadya Fouad, Patricia Arredondo, and Michael D’Andrea.
In 2017, the APA’s Monitor on Psychology explores how the organization’s Council of Representatives have adopted an updated and improved set of ethical guidelines “Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality,” which set to help psychologists understand and apply knowledge related to a person’s cultural identities and background.
The current Task Force Members Caroline S. Clauss-Ehlers of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, David A. Chiriboga of the University of South Florida, Scott J. Hunter of the University of Chicago, Gargi Roysircar Sodowsky of Antioch University New England and Pratyusha Tummala-Narra of Boston College developed the new guidelines, which have jumped from six to ten and are listed below:
Guideline 1. Psychologists seek to recognize and understand that identity and self-definition are fluid and complex and that the interaction between the two is dynamic. To this end, psychologists appreciate that intersectionality is shaped by the multiplicity of the individual’s social contexts.
Guideline 2. Psychologists aspire to recognize and understand that as cultural beings, they hold attitudes and beliefs that can influence their perceptions of and interactions with others as well as their clinical and empirical conceptualizations. As such, psychologists strive to move beyond conceptualizations rooted in categorical assumptions, biases, and/or formulations based on limited knowledge about individuals and communities.
Guideline 4. Psychologists endeavor to be aware of the role of the social and physical environment in the lives of clients, students, research participants, and/or consultees.
Guideline 5. Psychologists aspire to recognize and understand historical and contemporary experiences with power, privilege, and oppression. As such, they seek to address institutional barriers and related inequities, disproportionalities, and disparities of law enforcement, administration of criminal justice, educational, mental health, and other systems as they seek to promote justice, human rights, and access to quality and equitable mental and behavioral health services.
Guideline 6. Psychologists seek to promote culturally adaptive interventions and advocacy within and across systems, including prevention, early intervention, and recovery.
Guideline 7. Psychologists endeavor to examine the profession’s assumptions and practices within an international context, whether domestically or internationally based, and consider how this globalization has an impact on the psychologist’s self-definition, purpose, role, and function.
Guideline 8. Psychologists seek awareness and understanding of how developmental stages and life transitions intersect with the larger biosociocultural context, how identity evolves as a function of such intersections, and how these different socialization and maturation experiences influence worldview and identity.
Guideline 10. Psychologists actively strive to take a strength-based approach when working with individuals, families, groups, communities, and organizations that seeks to build resilience and decrease trauma within the sociocultural context.
For more information on the American Psychological’s Association’s Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality, visit APA.org.
American Psychological Association. 2017. Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality. Retrieved from: http://www.apa.org/about/policy/multicultural-guidelines.pdf