Moving towards a comprehensive understanding of multicultural counseling competence: the role of diversity cognitive complexity
This study explored several training variables that may contribute to counseling trainees' multicultural counseling self-efficacy and multicultural case conceptualization ability. Specifically, this study aimed to examine the cognitive processes that contribute to multicultural counseling competence (MCC) outcome variables. Clinical experience, multicultural knowledge, and multicultural awareness are assumed to provide the foundation for the development of these outcome variables. The role of how a counselor trainee utilizes this knowledge and awareness in working with diverse populations has not been explored. Diversity cognitive complexity (DCC) quantifies the process by which a counselor thinks about different elements of diversity in a multidimensional manner. The current study examined the role of DCC on the relationship between training variables of direct clinical experience with diverse populations, multicultural knowledge, and multicultural awareness and the two training outcomes (multicultural counseling self-efficacy and multicultural case conceptualization ability). A total of one hundred and sixty-one graduate trainees participated in the study. A series of hypotheses were tested to examine the impact of DCC on the relationship between MCC predictors (multicultural knowledge, multicultural awareness, and direct contact hours with diverse clinical populations) and two MCC outcomes: multicultural counseling self-efficacy and multicultural case conceptualization ability. Hierarchical regression analyses were utilized to test whether DCC mediated or moderated the relationship between the predictors and the outcome variables. Multicultural knowledge and clinical hours with diverse populations were significant predictors of multicultural counseling self-efficacy. Multicultural awareness was a significant predictor of multicultural case conceptualization ability. Diversity cognitive complexity was not a significantly related to any predictor or outcome variable, thus all hypotheses tested were rejected. The results of the current study support graduate programs emphasizing counselor trainees gaining multicultural knowledge and awareness as well as direct clinical experience with diverse clinical populations in an effort to foster MCC. Although diversity cognitive complexity was not significantly related to the predictor or outcome variables in this study, further research is warranted to determine the validity of the measure used to assess DCC. The findings in this study support the need for further research exploring training variables that contribute to multicultural counseling outcomes.