As a training facility we strongly embrace the ethical imperatives that guide the identity development of Psychologists, in particular the mandate to be culturally sensitive professionals.
We strive to create an environment of support and acceptance with our internship training as well as our work with clients, and with each other. Interns can expect that we will honor and respect their uniqueness while at the same time help grow as a therapist and a future psychologist. Our Diversity Statement below captures our vision for who we want to be:
“As a center we are committed to engaging in a journey of multicultural competency. We seek growth in our understanding of diversity as it relates to both the Baylor community and the global community. Our commitment extends not only outward in service but inward, as we each pursue awareness of our own experience of diversity.
As a center we share core values that promote and celebrate diversity. An expression of these values is evident in our respect, empathy, compassion, and acceptance of all people. We pride ourselves on providing services in the areas of clinical treatment, outreach and prevention, consultation, liaison, training and education. We envision our values, as they relate to multicultural competency, to be visible in all the ways in which we interact with Baylor and the Waco community, as well as, our day to day functioning within the walls of the Baylor University Counseling Center.
As a center we strive not only to increase awareness of diversity issues such as oppression and discrimination, but also to foster reconciliation as we affirm movement towards healing. We believe the spirit of the Christian faith embraces the spirit of multiculturalism: both emerging from the spirit of love. In being compelled by love, we show hospitality, dignity, and humility in our work with all people and in our interactions with one another.”
We think about culture and diversity broadly, allowing our definition to encompass racial and ethnic differences, gender and sexual identity, socioeconomic status, nationality, acculturation, religious affiliation, faith expression, and ability status, as well as the intersectionality of these and other identities. Comprehensive understanding of the impact of culture is seen by our staff as an integral ingredient of competent psychological practice.
We are therefore deeply committed to developing our own multicultural competencies and those of our interns. We believe that all counseling is multicultural counseling, and being an effective counselor requires being intentional about building healing relationships with clients where attention to issues of diversity is paramount.
We ascribe to APA’s position statement “Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public: A Core Requirement in Doctoral Education and Training” which can be found at: http://www.apa.org/pi/lgbt/resources/policy/diversity-preparation.aspx (See App. E).
We train interns to be well-rounded professional psychologists with the competencies to serve clients representing different forms of diversity. In providing this training, we commit ourselves to creating a supportive training environment that allows for self-exploration and the development of cognitive flexibility.
Interns training in our center are expected to develop competencies to effectively serve diverse populations, including clients whose identity, beliefs, worldview, or cultural background may create personal conflict with that of the intern.
We believe that in working through these conflicts interns will have the opportunity to grow and obtain valuable skills and experiences that will enhance their development as clinicians. Supervision is encouraged as a useful tool to obtain support during challenging diversity related experiences.
Sue and Sue (2013) state that “Cultural competence is the ability to engage in actions or create conditions that maximize the optimal development of client and client systems. It is the acquisition of awareness, knowledge, and skills needed to function effectively in a pluralistic democratic society (ability to communicate, interact, negotiate, and intervene on behalf of clients from diverse backgrounds), and on an organizational/societal level, advocating effectively to develop new theories, practices, policies, and organizational structures that are more responsive to all groups.” We approach the development of cultural competency by addressing these same areas of therapist awareness, knowledge, and skills.
Our staff is committed to this journey of cultural competency ourselves, as outlined in our vision statement. We further extend this vision to our internship training program for psychology doctoral students and ask them to take the journey with us. We seek to raise our trainee’s awareness, knowledge, and skills in cultural competence through key training opportunities including:
A culturally sensitive Individual Supervision Process
A culturally sensitive Intensive Case Conference
Clinical work with a broad range of diverse students
Diversity Seminar (2 hours, every other week)
Multicultural learning outcomes as a part of all didactic seminars
A culturally sensitive Supervision of Practicum Supervision experience
A Core-Competency requirement in area of diversity, including a diversity project
Furthermore, we are intentional in developing our cultural competency training in the above areas to be systematic, developmental, and to progressively build on an intern’s competencies in the areas of their multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills.
All of our supervisors hold a commitment to diversity and to personal growth. We have incorporated a Relational-Cultural model of supervision into our training program. And our training in diversity has been structured in an intentionally developmental and systematic manner. We consider it very important to train interns to think in a culturally competent way, rather than just learn certain facts about certain groups and apply them in a more stereotyped fashion.
All supervisors are expected to attend to diversity factors and collaborate with one another in training interns in this realm, to assure clear feedback and a thoughtful training experience. While we consider supervisors as having important responsibilities in the area of diversity, we also believe that interns need to develop awareness, take initiative, and challenge themselves and one another as needed to ensure a meaningful learning experience.
We also recognize that cultural competency is a journey in which no one, even those considered to be experts, ever reaches a destination. Interns are encouraged to respectfully bring to light issues of diversity that might have gone unnoticed by even their supervisor, as our clinical staff are also engaging in their own journey of cultural competency.
Topics relevant to diversity are regular features of the orientation, in-services, and intern seminars, and include experiential exercises as well as didactic information. Outreach presentations and consultations are provided to the campus community on diversity issues specifically or with diversity in mind in the development and execution of programs. While in most cases interns naturally experience a reasonably diverse caseload, supervisors assist the interns in monitoring the diversity of their caseload, and case assignments are intentionally made when needed to balance caseloads and provide experience.
Cultural Competency is intimately tied to the establishment of relationships that recognize power differentials, and invite reciprocity and mutual feedback in both the supervision relationship and the clinical relationships. Therefore, an integral part of our internship training is inviting feedback about our training process.
Trainees will complete an assessment of their supervisor, that includes feedback about their provision of culturally sensitive supervision, and an assessment of the culturally sensitive case-conference. Additionally, all clinicians (both trainees and staff) receive feedback from a client satisfaction survey each semester, which includes questions about their cultural competency skills – as experienced directly by their clients. All of these data points become grist for the mill in the individual supervision process, and help us further our shared journey in developing continued competencies – trainers and trainees, alike.
Supervisory feedback on an intern’s perceived multicultural competency will be a part of the biannual evaluation process. Interns will be expected to arrive with a beginning to intermediate level of cultural competence. The goal of the internship is to advance the interns to a more advanced level of cultural competency, and readiness for independent practice.
And finally, in addition to an ongoing dialogue with the interns on how our program can improve our training of cultural competencies, we also ask for this feedback in our final overall training program evaluation.