Introduction

Being students of psychology means being students of research methods, scientific models, and most important, human behavior and development from multiple, knowledge-based, contextual perspectives.

This report, the third in a series sponsored by the Council of National Psychological Associations for the Advancement of Ethnic Minority Interests (CNPAAEMI), sets out to encourage psychological trainers and educators to reassess and elaborate on their strategies for preparing the nation’s future psychologists to competently and respectfully research and serve the everchanging tapestry of our increasingly multicultural nation. The hope is that it will also serve to empower psychology students to seek appropriate multicultural and culture-specific training.

Regardless of our specialty area as psychologists, we must be grounded in research in specific cultural/ethnic perspectives. Education and training in psychology must precede practice and be a life-long learning mandate for professional psychologists.

Several considerations follow:

  • Although the field of multicultural psychology and counseling began with attention to clinical practice and one comprehensive survey course (which was not always required), a grounding in cross-cutting cultural constructs (etic or universal) balanced with (culture-specific) knowledge is fundamental to ethical research, practice and organizational development.

  • Experience counts, but it is not sufficient to declare that one is a culturally competent psychologist. To advance new educational models in psychology and evidence-based practice, graduate training must also be balanced with community-based experiences and culturally relevant research.

  • Multicultural psychology is multidisciplinary, informed by cultural/ethnic anthropology, sociology, economics, religions, and history. These varying perspectives are presented in each section of this report. The authors discuss the contemporary experiences of ethnic minority individuals in historical context. Common denominators in these discussions are colonization, dislocations, resilience and self-efficacy.

  • The global society is becoming more complex, integrated, and interdependent. Although this report targets psychologists and other mental health professionals in the United States, we believe that the culture-specific sections herein have application to different international settings.

Psychology Education and Training from Culture-Specific Perspectives

The first section of the report examines psychology education and training from several culture-specific perspectives including:

  • People of African Descent

  • American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian People

  • Latinas/os and Their Communities

  • Asian American People and Communities

Multiracial People in the Context of Specific Racial Minority Groups

In the second part of the report, the authors focus primarily on experiences related to addressing the invisibility and marginalization within the education of multiracial individuals and communities across racial minority groups.

They focus on those issues that are related to being of mixed race generally, rather than on those that are specific to being a multiracial person from a particular racial background. However, it is also imperative that educators understand that the experiences of multiracial individuals are related to the meanings and experiences of particular racial referent groups and to each group’s understanding of multiraciality.

Thus, the section begins with an overview of historical and contextual issues shared by multiracial individuals and then proceeds to a discussion on the historical and contextual issues related to multiraciality within each major cultural/racial minority group. Subsequent discussions on barriers to culture-specific education, culture-specific teaching tools and recommendations, and conclusions, focus on common experiences of multiracial people as a group.