Rehabilitation Counselors' Perceived Multicultural Competence: Working

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The purpose of this study is to examine rehabilitation counselors' perceived multicultural competence in working with clients with severe mental illness and specifically African Americans with severe mental illness. The impact of the counselor's own cultural heritage and perception of their counseling skills will be explored. Counselors' race, gender, training, and experience will be examined in terms of awareness, knowledge, terminology, and skills.

Research suggests that the primary disability group served by state and federal rehabilitation agencies is persons with psychiatric disability. The prevalence of serious mental disorders among African Americans is reflected by national as well as state statistics. Rehabilitation outcomes among minority individuals with serious mental disabilities are significantly lower (39.1%) compared to their white counterparts (44%). The large unemployment rate of minority persons with psychiatric disabilities is a reflection of the impact of cultural and diversity issues.

In this study 148 rehabilitation counselors from the National Rehabilitation Association, National Association of Multicultural Rehabilitation Concerns (NAMRC) Division, and the American Counseling Association, American Rehabilitation Counselors Association (ARCA) Division, completed the Multicultural Counseling Competence and Training Survey-Rehabilitation Version (MCCTS-R), the Mental Health Self Assessment For Counseling Competencies (MHSACC) and the Situational Attitude Scale (SAS) Form B.

Results indicated that rehabilitation counselors perceive themselves to be competent in areas of multicultural knowledge, terminology, awareness and skills. Being female and a person of color other than African American was significantly related to multicultural knowledge. Counselors related years of experience to multicultural awareness, but did not perceive multicultural training as a significant predictor of any type of multicultural competence. There appeared to be no significant difference in the way African American and White rehabilitation counselors provided services across racial/ethnic groups; however, findings suggested a hierarchy of service provision consistent throughout the Mental Health Self Assessment for Counseling Competencies (MHSACC). Attitudes of African American and White rehabilitation counselors toward African Americans varied. Notably, there was a marked difference in attitudes relating to situations of a close social and/or personal nature. This study discusses implications of the results in relationship to prior research, future research, training and practice.