What about Me: Using Grounded Theory to Understand How African-American Counseling Professionals become Multiculturally CompetentH

Binaca T. L. Fetherson, Western Michigan University


Eurocentrism in multicultural education and training cannot provide a full and accurate understanding of Black/African-American reality. Therefore, the training of Black/African-Americans in psychology is, indeed, dismal (Nobles, 1986). Consequently, Black/African-American trainees in a predominately White training environment are not learning how to help Black/African people become healthy, for health is assumed and taught under Eurocentric guidelines. Thus, research that is deliberately intended to explore the process by which Black/African-American trainees who are receiving their training in a predominately White environment become multiculturally competent is greatly needed.

Given that multicultural competence functions as an interactive dynamic social sequel that is constantly changing, the unique challenges wrought by deeply entrenched racism and oppression consistently faced by Black/African-Americans warrants attention in multicultural education and training. Particularly, "how" they are able to become multiculturally competent with barriers such as racialization and limited training intended for their needs must be addressed.

In this study, purposeful sampling was used to select nine Black/African American counseling professionals throughout the United States. Selection of potential participants was based on criteria aimed at providing data that was rich and detailed the process by which Black/African-American counseling professionals develop multicultural competence. All nine participants consented to participate in an in-depth individual interview and based on the responses from these interviews openended questions were created for two on-line focus groups that were created and held via internet. Six out of the nine participants consented to participate in the on-line focus group discussions.

Through the systematic design of grounded theory, the essential dynamics involved in the process by which Black/African-American counseling professionals become multiculturally competent emerged and a resultant theoretical framework was established. The Moving toward a Multicultural Framework for the Development of Multicultural Competence of Black/African American Counseling Professionals (MMCBA) model, depicts that a multicultural framework is essential in optimizing the development of multicultural competence for Black/African-American trainees. This framework delineates Black/African-American trainees, race, multiculturalism, lived experiences as a minority, societal influences, attitudes, beliefs, and actions, interpersonal processes, multicultural education, and training as interactive, interconnected concepts fundamental to how Black/African-American trainees in predominately White training environments become multiculturally competent.