Racial and ethnic minority students' perceptions of clinical psychology training environments

Marilyn Danyell Ortega (2007)

In spite of the increase in diversity in graduate professional psychology programs and the incorporation of multicultural coursework, racial and ethnic minorities often feel marginalized and unwelcome (Cervantes, 1989; Gloria, Robinson-Kurpius, Hamilton, & Wilson, 1999; Gossett, Cuyjet, & Cockriel, 1998). Research has revealed that the educational environment can impact students' sense of self-efficacy (Bandura, Barbaranelli, Caprara, & Pastorelli, 1996; Steele, 1997). Self-efficacy or confidence in one's ability to perform a task has been demonstrated to effect proficient outcome behaviors (Bandura, 1997; Steele, 1997). In light of this information, the current study aimed to explore racial and ethnic minority students' perceptions of the level of multiculturalism in their training environment, as well as their self-reported competencies in multicultural counseling. It was expected that as the perceived level of multiculturalism increased in the training environment, students would report corresponding levels of self-efficacy in multicultural counseling. This study surveyed students who self-identified as African American, Asian American, Latino/a, Native American, and Biracial/Multiracial. Students were drawn from APA-approved doctoral clinical psychology programs, both Ph.D. and Psy.D., in the United States. Participants were recruited through Directors of Training of clinical psychology programs and through Directors of Internship of pre-doctoral internship programs. Participants accessed a website containing three instruments: the Multicultural Environmental Inventory-Revised (MEI-R; Pope-Davis, Liu, Nevitt, & Toporek, 2000), the Multicultural Counseling Inventory (MCI; Sodowsky, Taffe, Gutkin, & Wise, 1994), and a demographic questionnaire. Results indicated that racial and ethnic minorities perceived their training environment to reflect a moderate degree of focus on multicultural issues. Students also reported a high sense of self-efficacy in performing multicultural counseling. A low, nonsignificant correlation was found between the MEI-R full scale and the MCI full scale, showing these two instruments and the constructs they purport to measure to be relatively independent of each other. Exploratory analyses showed significant differences by regional location in terms of the number of racial and ethnic minority peers and faculty in clinical training programs. The number of minority faculty members related significantly to the sense of multiculturalism in the training environment. These results provide implications for what factors minority students deem necessary to describe an environment as multicultural. These potential sources of influence for minorities in their developing confidence in multicultural counseling are discussed.