Feminist Multicultural Psychology: Evolution, Change, and Challenge
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter traces the “herstory” of feminist multicultural perspectives in counseling psychology from 1970 to the present. It highlights the activities, events, products, groups, and organizations that have contributed to feminist multicultural and social justice perspectives. The chapter chronicles the challenges of integrating multicultural and feminist perspectives and notes developments and changes with regard to (a) defining sex and gender; (b) conceptualizing the intersections of oppression, power, and privilege; (c) understanding complex and subtle forms of bias in the twenty-first century; (d) exploring research methods for studying complex intersections of multiple identities; and (e) clarifying concepts and structures that support feminist multicultural theory, ethics, and practice. Chapter themes provide a foundation for the contents of this handbook, which focus on contemporary frameworks for feminist multicultural counseling psychology; the contributions and experiences of diverse groups of women and persons with multiple social identities; major theory and practice areas in feminist multicultural counseling psychology; and advocacy, training, and social justice applications.
Feminist Multicultural Counseling Psychology: Evolution, Change, and Challenge
The title of this handbook underlines its major goal: the integration of multicultural and feminist perspectives in counseling psychology. Although this goal has been important for many decades (see, for example, Griscom, 1979; Thompson, 2002), the effective implementation of this holistic approach to diversity often has been challenging and elusive (Williams & Barber, 2004). Louise Silverstein (2006) stated, for example, that multicultural theorists typically have paid limited attention to gender and feminism, and feminist theorists have tended to pay limited attention to class and race/ethnicity themes, focusing primarily on the realities of White, middle class women. Silverstein’s statements echoed Pamela Trotman Reid’s (2002) earlier observation that in the feminist literature, “the dominant ethnicity is assumed unless otherwise specified” (p. 104), while “researchers who examine ethnicity or race often define their interests narrowly to ignore issues of gender and the impact of sexism” (p. 104).
Multicultural and feminist perspectives are characterized by a variety of similarities, including: an emphasis on the ways in which sociocultural environments affect life trajectories, goals, and challenges; attentiveness to social, institutional, and individual power structures and their relationships to privilege, oppression, and “isms;” a recognition of the roles of consciousness-raising and critical consciousness for gaining insights and facilitating equality and empowerment; and the valuing of social as well as individual change as major methods (p. 4) for meeting goals (Enns & Forrest, 2005; Williams & Barber, 2004; Reynolds & Constantine, 2004). The reasons for the slow (or lack of) integration of these approaches are multiple, and include, among other factors, myopic or narrow conceptualizations of feminism and multiculturalism, difficulties defining the complexity of feminist and multicultural factors in inclusive and meaningful ways, the limited willingness of White individuals to acknowledge and give up privileged status, and the outsider status of both feminist and multicultural perspectives within psychology (Enns, 2004; Williams & Barber, 2004).
Although integrative work remains challenging, both Reid and Silverstein emphasize the value of and hope for a complexity paradigm that involves “a commitment to examining all of the salient features of personal identity and social locations” (Silverstein, p. 26). This volume represents one effort to explore the complex biopsychosocial intersections of multiple identities, multiple privileges, and multiple oppressions as they emerge during multiple time periods, multiple developmental phases, and multiple life tasks. Reid and Silverstein also proposed that a commitment to social justice offers a unifying approach for implementing a complexity paradigm, and the theme of social justice is explored throughout this handbook. As the concept implies, a “complexity paradigm” is not easily defined, and, as this volume reflects, there are many content areas and methods of working toward implementing an inclusive complexity approach.
The title of this handbook uses the following sequence of words: “feminist multicultural counseling psychology.” The title could have reversed this order as “multicultural feminist.” The ordering of these two words is not intended to prioritize one approach over the other, but rather to move toward the integration of multicultural feminist approaches in an inclusive, holistic perspective. Some readers may prefer multicultural feminist, others feminist multicultural, and still others, an alternative phrase that emphasizes a social justice orientation. It is also possible that different situations may call for “differential consciousness” (Moya, 2001), which results in heightened awareness of multicultural issues in some contexts, and heightened awareness of feminist concerns in other situations. It is important to value the efforts of psychologists and activists who have worked toward the integration of multicultural and feminist goals in a variety of organizations and initiatives, some of which use multicultural approaches as an umbrella framework and others which use feminism as an overall scaffold or framework.
The final component of this book’s title refers to counseling psychology, which also provides an orienting foundation for this book’s approach to multiculturalism and feminism. Counseling psychology values lend themselves to forms of integration that emphasize (a) human dignity, strengths, resilience, and optimal functioning; (b) a life span approach that is attentive to the varying educational, career, and personal needs of individuals across the life span; (c) person-environment interactions and a holistic ecological perspective that is attentive to microsystems as well as macrosystems; (d) educational and prevention interventions that focus on health enhancement; (e) the creative synthesis and integration of theory, science, and practice; (f) collaborative, egalitarian, and multidisciplinary networks and knowledge foundations; and (e) advocacy and social justice (Packard, 2009; Whalen et al., 2004). The multiple topics included in this volume are intended to reflect these priorities.
This initial chapter is intended to introduce a variety of issues and themes that are developed in greater detail throughout this volume. To provide a context for feminist multicultural (or multicultural feminist) perspectives, we begin with a herstory/history of important developments that have moved counseling psychologists toward adopting a complexity paradigm and more integrative, intersectional approaches. This summary speaks to both the positive outcomes and the tensions that have characterized the past 50 years. Space does not permit a comprehensive history/herstory of all important approaches to enhancing integrative work. Given the fact that the editors and many of the authors of this volume began their exploration of diversity issues within feminist contexts, the herstory that follows places particular emphasis on changes within feminism that have contributed to multicultural understandings. The second part of this chapter highlights domains in which our understanding of multiculturalism and feminism have evolved, with the goal of providing a road map for reading other chapters in this volume.
Feminist Multicultural Counseling Psychology: A Herstorical Perspective
During the 1960s, as the civil rights and second wave women’s movements gained strength, feminist psychologists in both the United States and Canada began to focus on women’s issues within psychology. One of the most frequently cited critiques of that time came from Naomi Weisstein (p. 5) ( 1993), who stated that “psychology has nothing to say about what women are really like” (p. 197). Weisstein described three major flaws with psychology. First, she identified the problem of theory without evidence, especially in the subfields of personality and psychotherapy, and was especially critical of classical psychoanalysts who proposed that women were essentially passive, masochistic, and dependent. The second problem was psychology’s tendency to decontextualize human experience, to explain behavior in terms of inner traits rather than on the basis of the social context that modifies and shapes behavior. Third, Weisstein was critical of reductionist biologically based theories of sex and gender differences that permeated the field. In other work, Weisstein (1977) also documented the type of biased, sexist treatment experienced by women in graduate psychology programs. Each of the problems that she discussed is relevant to the corrective measures that both multicultural and feminist psychologists have addressed.
In both the United States and Canada, psychologists such as Weisstein encountered professional organizations and institutions that were unresponsive to their concerns and proposals (Pyke, 2001; Tiefer, 1991). Thus, they stepped outside the formal structures of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) to initiate change. In the United States, after coping with various forms of resistance, denial, disinterest, and marginalization within the APA (Tiefer, 1991), feminist psychologists established an independent organization in 1969, the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP). In response to their frustration (Pyke, 2001), Canadian feminist psychologists also ventured outside psychology’s formal structure, sponsoring an “underground symposium” at a hotel adjacent to the CPA convention in 1972.
The early to mid-1970s were years marked by high levels of energy for women in both the CPA and the APA. Following the “walk-out” of feminist psychologists in both the United States and Canada, both the CPA and the APA acknowledged the disadvantaged status of women psychologists and provided structures for fostering research and knowledge relevant to the psychology of women (Hogan & Sexton, 1991; Mednick & Urbanski, 1991; Pyke, 2001). For example, the APA created a Task Force on the Status of Women in Psychology, which led to the establishment of APA’s Society for the Psychology of Women (Division 35) (Mednick & Urbanski, 1991). APA’s Division 35 and the AWP have enjoyed a close and mutually enriching relationship since that time. Division 35 organized a Task Force on Black Women’s Priorities in 1976, and a Task Force on the Concerns of Hispanic Women in 1977, emphasizing the important role that women of color have played within the psychology of women (Mednick&Urbanski). Today, the Society for the Psychology of Women includes sections on lesbian, bisexual, and transgender concerns; Black women; Hispanic women and Latinas; Asian Pacific American women; and Alaska native, American Indian, and indigenous women. Both APA’s Society for the Psychology of Women and AWP have assumed leadership roles in considering the intersections of multiple forms of diversity.
Within counseling psychology, the Ad Hoc Committee on Women was established in 1970 (Farmer, 2002), and its members historically have been active members of the Society for the Psychology of Women (Division 35) and multiple other APA structures that emphasize diversity and social justice concerns. Much of the content that appears in subsequent chapters of this handbook is the outgrowth of the priorities, scholarship, and initiatives that emerged from the ad hoc committee and evolving structures that eventually were formalized as the Section for the Advancement of Women (SAW) in 1996. Helen Farmer (2002) identified five major goals of SAW: (a) providing professional support for members, including supporting women’s advancement as leaders and journal editors, and nominating women for awards; (b) advancing education and training, such as through crafting principles and guidelines for psychological practice, sponsoring workshops and conferences, and ensuring that training programs and accreditation guidelines emphasized social change as well as gender and multicultural concerns; (c) contributing to the advancement of science, especially through the publication of major journal contributions; (d) highlighting professional practice issues relevant to the changing needs of women, as well as ethics (e.g., boundary crossings in therapy, competent practice with sexual abuse memories); and (e) addressing diversity, public interest and social change, and the intersections of gender, race, sexual orientation, and other social locations. Across these five areas, SAW has maintained an activist focus and has supported a variety of task forces designed to effect change within psychology and beyond (see Farmer, 2002, for a detailed summary).
(p. 6) Efforts to create a more inclusive climate consistent with feminist multicultural priorities have been enriched by a variety of ethnic minority organizations within psychology, which also originated during the late 1960s and early 1970s (Franklin, 2009; Holliday, 2009; Leong & Okazaki, 2009; Sue, 2009; Trimble & Clearing-Sky, 2009). Ethnic minority psychological associations (e.g., Association of Black Psychologists, Asian American Psychological Association, Society of Indian Psychologists) emerged out of a need to “transform the status quo in the profession” (Franklin, 2009, p. 416), and to protest the lack of or limited responsiveness to ethnic minority issues and realities in the APA and within psychology more broadly (Holliday, 2009; Pickren, 2009). Ethnic minority associations (a) gave voice to the “deeply scarring indignities” (Franklin, 2009, p. 352) of people of color, as well as their pride and resilience; (b) challenged the marginalization and underrepresentation of psychologists and people of color within psychology, as well as biases and racism embedded in theory and research; (c) provided a foundation for personal and professional support, the development of new knowledge, and activism; and (d) paved the way for “unity in through diversity” (Comas-Diaz, 2009, p. 402) within the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues (Division 45). Although the APA first established the Committee on Equality of Opportunity in Psychology in 1963, the structure of APA Division 45 was not formalized until 1986. The inclusive model on which it was founded focused on “representing all major ethnic minority groups balanced with gender” (Comas-Diaz, 2009, p. 402).
Within counseling psychology, the Section on Ethnic and Racial Diversity (SERD) and the Section on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues (SLGBTI) also have been instrumental in supporting consciousness-raising, scholarship, and practice relevant to ethnic/racial groups and sexual minorities. A variety of contributors to feminist multicultural psychology have provided significant leadership and knowledge through these structures, and overlap of Division 17 membership with APA’s Divisions 45 (Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues) and 44 (Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues) has been considerable. In addition, the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (originally named the Association for Non-White Concerns), a Division of the American Counseling Association, also played an important role in the advancement of multicultural issues. Its journal, the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development (JMCD), included a series of articles based on the outcomes of the Centralizing Multiculturalism and Feminism in Counseling Psychology conference (see Fassinger, 2004; JMCD 32 (Extra) 2004; JMCD 34(2), 2006).
Nonsexist Psychological Practice with Women: The 1970s and 1980s
This section provides background about a variety of important initiatives within psychology during the 1970s and 1980s that emphasized features of non-sexist practice. We place emphasis on the Principles Concerning the Counseling and Psychotherapy of Women (1979), which were an outgrowth of work within counseling psychology. This narrative also makes reference to parallel developments that occurred within Canada and discusses how these projects provided a foundation for later work.
From the 1970s to the mid-1980s, a variety of task forces within both the APA and the CPA challenged sexism and developed guidelines for non-sexist language (APA, 1975a, 1977), non-sexist research (Denmark, Russo, Frieze, & Sechzer, 1988), and non-sexist psychotherapy (APA 1975b, 1978; see also Hogan & Sexton, 1991; Pyke, 2001). A survey of women psychologists, conducted by the Task Force on Sex Bias and Sex Role Stereotyping in Psychotherapeutic Practice (1975b), revealed problems encountered by women in therapy, including (a) the fostering of traditional women’s roles; (b) the devaluation and biased expectations of women; (c) the sexist application of psychoanalytic concepts; and (d) the treatment of women as sex objects. The Task Force (APA, 1978) proposed 13 guidelines to counteract and rectify these biases.
In addition to association-wide efforts, psychologists representing counseling psychology participated in a multi-year project that led to the crafting and adoption of the Principles Concerning the Counseling and Psychotherapy of Women (APA, 1979; Fitzgerald & Nutt, 1986). A 1977 planning meeting focused on identifying basic philosophical values; clarified the need for specific knowledge, skills, and attitudes in counseling women; and noted areas in which specific competencies and expertise were necessary. One year later, a group of approximately 30 women met to develop specific recommendations that could be endorsed by “broad-based groups of professionals” (Hill et al., 1979, p. 2). As a part of proceedings (p. 7) that were characterized by “lively debate,” and “reasoned zeal” (Blimline & Birk, 1979, p. 49), participants worked as a group to craft and approve 13 guidelines, seeking compromise when consensus did not emerge immediately. Some participants criticized the resulting principles for endorsing non-sexist rather than feminist perspectives, and as offering an insufficient analysis of power dynamics within society that impede women’s development and mental health (e.g., Lerman, 1979). Hannah Lerman noted that some participants believed that the principles went too far, and acknowledged that “despite the carefully chosen neutral (as opposed to political) words, we may have committed ourselves to political dynamite” (p. 51). Despite some tension, the Principles Concerning the Counseling and Psychotherapy of Women (APA, 1979) were endorsed by the Division of Counseling Psychology (17) in 1978, adopted by a variety of other divisions within the APA, including Divisions 12 (Clinical Psychology), 16 (School Psychology), 29 (Psychotherapy), and 35 (Psychology of Women) (Farmer, 2002), and were endorsed by the APA Education and Training Board (Mintz, Rideout, & Bartels, 1994).
A special issue of The Counseling Psychologist published a series of short supporting articles that described sexist psychotherapy practices, documented women’s “footnote” status in psychology, provided background regarding general knowledge and skills for counseling women, and identified skills for working with subgroups of women (e.g., lesbians, school-age girls, Black women). Two of the authors of these short articles are contributors to this volume (Courtois, 1979; Nutt, 1979). In addition, Joan Griscom (1979) articulated the need to attend to the diverse race, class, and sex differences between women, noting that, whereas early feminist visions had emphasized sisterhood and similarities among women, contemporary challenges require “recognizing and facing crucial differences among women” (p. 11). She added: “Both class and race analyses become crucial for an integrated perspective, and for building real bridges between women from different groups” (p. 11).
Within Canada, the CPA Status of Women Committee was largely responsible for the writing of the 10 Guidelines for Therapy and Counselling with Women, which were approved and adopted by the CPA Board of Directors in 1980 (CPA, 1980). Although the APA and CPA groups worked independently of each other, there are remarkable similarities within the two documents, and these overlapping themes can be grouped within eight broad categories. The following list labels these categories and associated behaviors for enhancing non-sexist practice.
1. Awareness of values: Monitoring values and attitudes, including understanding one’s own values and socialization, developing awareness of the potential impact of one’s personal functioning, and avoiding double standards when considering the choices of clients. (APA principles 11 and 12; CPA principle 9)
2. Knowledge: Gaining knowledge of unique concerns and issues faced by women. (APA principle 1 and 3, CPA principle 5)
3. Theory: Avoiding the use of biased theories, and adopting theoretical frameworks that support women’s potential. (APA principle 2; CPA principles 3 and 4)
4. Women’s life choices: Expanding women’s options by helping them explore a variety of options that transcend gender role socialization and restrictions. (APA principle 7; CPA principles 1 and 2)
5. Oppression and power: Recognizing and working toward eliminating oppressions and power abuses, including physical violence and sexual abuse, sex biases in institutions, and forms of oppression that interact with sexism. (APA principles 4 and 13; CPA principle 7)
6. Therapeutic relationships: Developing optimal therapist-client relationships and process/intervention skills that facilitate sharing responsibility with clients, treating clients as full adults, using skills that support growth, and recognizing occasions when the gender of the therapist might be important to achieving therapeutic goals. (APA principles 5, 6, and 8; CPA principle 8)
7. Communication: Using non-sexist language, being aware of the impact of non-verbal and verbal variables as they reinforce the sharing of responsibility and power, and avoiding language that demeans women or conveys bias. (APA principles 5 and 9; CPA principle 6)
8. Sexualization and objectification: Avoiding the sexualization of clients, including avoiding the treatment women as sex objects or engaging in sexual activity with clients. (APA principle 10; CPA principle 10)
Both the APA and CPA principles/guidelines reflected salient concerns and goals of the late 1970s (p. 8) and emphasized (a) eliminating the gender-biased attitudes of practitioners; (b) understanding the socialization processes that limit the self-definitions of women and men; and (c) moving research, knowledge, and practice regarding the psychology of women and gender from marginalized status to a central, legitimate area of study. The guidelines and principles, along with an expanded rationale and implementation statement (Fitzgerald & Nutt, 1986), called on practitioners to work with women from an informed, sensitive, non-sexist perspective; provided useful guidance for work and research with women through the 1980s and much of the 1990s; and established a framework for organizing and discussing gender issues in counseling (see Enns, 2000; Yoder, 1999).
As understandings of feminism matured and expanded during the 1990s and beyond, the limitations of non-sexist approaches for guiding contemporary practice became apparent. Growing knowledge of diversity among women and the limitations of “one size fits all” approaches were among the catalysts for efforts to transform initial frameworks. More specifically, the 1979 principles spoke to the confining socialization influences that women and men face, but placed less emphasis on power differences and structures that influence women’s lives and mental health experiences. They called for the elimination of sex bias in institutions and individuals, but provided limited guidance for initiating systemic change. Second, although the 1979 principles referred to the importance of being knowledgeable about “special problems of subgroups of women” (principle 3) and recognizing “all forms of oppression and how they interact with sexism” (principle 4), themes of diversity were not central to the document. In their commentary about the guidelines, Fitzgerald and Nutt (1986) noted that:
The theories that are only now being constructed about female psychology are often, ironically, as irrelevant to the description and explanation of the experience and behavior of black, Chicano, poor, elderly, and gay women as were the androcentric formulations of mainstream psychology to the behavior of white, middle-class women a decade ago. (p. 189)
Thus, it was becoming apparent that an approach that was simply non-sexist was inadequate for meeting the needs of diverse women in multiple contexts. This growing awareness led to important events in subsequent decades that shaped a feminist multicultural agenda.
Feminist and Multicultural Developments during the 1990s and the Twenty-first Century
This section includes commentary about a variety of developments and conferences that were held during the 1990s and beyond, highlighting the sequence of events and the emerging awareness of the importance of and methods for feminist multicultural practice. In keeping with the focus of this volume on counseling psychology, most of the events and developments described below were centered within Division 17, the Society of Counseling Psychology.
Centralizing Multiculturalism and Feminism in Psychology
The need for greater attentiveness to intersections of multiculturalism and feminism became a major focus for working conferences in the 1990s. Catalysts for these conferences included growing knowledge of feminist frameworks and diversity among women, and the need to assess and organize the rapid expansion of knowledge, research, and practice within the psychology of women and gender. Janet Hyde (2007), for example, author of seven editions of a psychology of women text, noted that, whereas in 1974 “the problem was that the field was too new and the research therefore too thin” (p. xi), by 2005 “there was almost too much research” (p. xi), and she faced the challenge of making decisions about topics and research that were most important for an introductory text. Major changes that she brought to later editions focused on diversity and multiculturalism.
In 1993, Division 35 (then Psychology of Women) hosted a conference that focused on “shaping the future of feminist psychology” (Worell & Johnson, 1997). One of the conference working groups focused on diversity (Greene & Sanchez-Hucles, 1997). This working group called for an analysis of privilege and power among women, reminded psychologists that emphasizing gender as a primary source of oppression posed an obstacle to inclusive definitions of diversity, and spoke of the importance of developing alliances across specific social identities.
In 1998, the Section for the Advancement of Women (SAW) in counseling psychology hosted a national working meeting titled Advancing Together: Centralizing Multiculturalism and Feminism in Counseling Psychology (Fassinger, 2004). The goal of the conference chairs (Ruth Fassinger, Linda Forrest, and Freda Ginsberg) was (p. 9) to bring together women who represented diverse social identities (e.g., race, sexual orientation, age, disability) and different experiences within counseling psychology for the purpose of defining a multicultural feminist knowledge base relevant to ten major topics (most of which also are addressed in this handbook). Working groups focused on the topics of counseling and psychotherapy, ethics, supervision, mentoring and professional development, education, pedagogy, career development, research and science, assessment, consultation and advocacy, and diversity and multiculturalism. Other goals included fostering large-scale mentoring and fostering the production and dissemination of scholarly outcomes relevant to the working group topics (Farmer, 2002). Many of these products appeared in two issues of the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development (Volume 32, Extra 2004; Volume 34, Issue 2, 2006) and a special issue of the Career Development Quarterly (see Cook, Heppner, & O’Brien, 2002).
One of the most profound outcomes of this conference was the recognition that bringing together multicultural and feminist themes within counseling psychology is not an uncomplicated task, and that difficult dialogues across identities would be necessary for moving forward (Fassinger, 2004). Women of color assumed leadership in identifying a number of issues that limited full inclusion of all women (e.g., Bowman, Rasheed, Ferris, Thompson, McRae, & Weitzman, 2001; Steward & Phelps, 2004). Some women of color experienced subtle pressure to prioritize a feminist identity over other identities, and viewed the feminism of their White co-participants as ethnocentrically glossing over multiple oppressions and identities, especially race, class, and cultural dimensions. As one woman of color noted: “I refuse to take the label feminist” (Bowman et al., p. 788), noting that for her, that term is associated with a movement by and for White middle-class women. Another woman of color commented that, although gender had been an “element in discrimination against me” (Bowman et al., p. 789), “race is more significant in U.S. society than being a woman” (Bowman et al., p. 789). She stated that, while women and men of color share discrimination and work toward liberation on a daily basis, white men and women share power and privilege, and “women of color understand that feminism was and is not necessary to liberate us” (Bowman et al., p. 791).
Women of color emphasized the importance of honest, open discussion of imbalances of power, and expressed anger not only about their experiences of racism, but about the responses of their White colleagues, noting that, when faced with the direct expression of anger, White women often deny their associations with privilege and power, adopting “internalized perceptions of themselves as weak, passive, and powerless” (p. 792); in addition, “they cry; they whine; they shut down” (p. 792), a behavioral pattern that limits direct management of conflict. They observed that this response pattern on the part of White women also implies that women of color need to take care of White women and to raise issues “in a way that allows White women to hear it on an intellectual level” (p. 793). They challenged their White sisters to be honest, noting that, for genuine progress to be made, “holding back or being polite” (p. 796) will not lead to substantial change; rather, real progress requires the willingness to share and experience intense emotion, to listen to pain, and to tolerate discomfort and feelings associated with distrust. As noted by Ruth Fassinger (2004) in her summary of the meeting:
We learned that trust takes time to build and that we do not always listen as well as we think we do. We learned that hierarchy is extraordinarily difficult to dismantle even under the best efforts. We learned how hard it is to keep perspective and momentum after highly charged interpersonal interactions…. We glimpsed how far we have to go. (p. 345)
In short, the concerns of women of color underlined the in-depth level of dialogue that was and continues to be necessary in formulating inclusive models of integrating multiculturalism and feminism. For White women, in particular, recognizing and sharing power and privilege and centralizing the perspectives of those who often have been marginalized or underrepresented are crucial areas of learning.
Multicultural Summits and Diversity in Psychology
One year after the Centralizing Multiculturalism and Feminism working conference, the first National Multicultural Conference and Summit (NMCS) was sponsored by a group of four APA divisions committed to social justice issues. In a fortuitous circumstance in which the presidents of Divisions 17, 35, 44, and 45 all were people of color that year, these individuals collaborated to create a space in which multicultural issues were central. Major themes at the first summit focused on (a) raising consciousness about the impact of monoculturalism and (p. 10) “Whiteness” in psychology and society; (b) creating space for difficult dialogues about race, gender, and sexual orientation; (c) building a psychology that is responsive to the changing and ever more diverse landscape of North American society; (d) supporting the teaching of multiculturalism and diversity; and (e) acknowledging and integrating dimensions associated with spirituality within the psychology knowledge base (Sue, Bingham, Porché-Burke, & Vasquez, 1999). Another major goal of the conference was to build multicultural alliances to support advocacy and political action. As noted by organizers, multiculturalism was defined broadly to include a wide range of social identities such as sexual orientation, gender, race/ethnicity, disability, religion, class, age, and other identities and differences. An integrative approach was adopted to facilitate challenging dialogues between underrepresented and/or marginalized groups and to transcend “who is more oppressed” arguments. Although there are potential tensions associated with defining multiculturalism broadly (e.g., perceptions of a dilution of issues or diversion away from key issues faced by people of color), a more inclusive definition has the potential to support productive activist alliances and approaches that are attentive to the intersectional, multiple identities held by individuals.
Like its predecessor meetings and conferences, the Multicultural Summit revealed the presence of deep and difficult tensions and misunderstandings among the diverse groups represented at the Summit; the chasm between conservative religious beliefs and the affirmative inclusion of sexual minorities has been particularly difficult to bridge, for example, as has been the ongoing invisibility of disability in the multicultural discourse. However, the NMCS continues to be held on a biennial schedule, and it continues to grow and evolve, contributing importantly to enriched understandings of what it means to think inclusively about multicultural psychology and its relation to other foci in our field. The NMCS held in 2011, for example, highlighted themes of unification through diversity and the integration of science and practice in psychology, both important issues for feminist multicultural psychology.
Social Justice, Advocacy, and Multiculturalism in Counseling Psychology
In 2001, a national counseling psychology conference held in Houston was organized around the following theme: Psychologists are Everywhere and Making a Difference (Fouad et al., 2004). The conference explored the many new and different roles that counseling psychologists play in a changing society, and the roles of social advocacy and social justice in counseling psychology. In addition to keynote addresses that explored topics such as counseling psychology’s emphasis on health and diversity, counseling psychology’s growth toward greater inclusiveness, and the role of political advocacy, the conference structure included social action groups (SAGs). Nine groups organized their efforts around topics such as domestic violence, community violence, child abuse and neglect, homelessness and welfare, care for the chronically mentally ill, issues of poor and working class persons, racism, and social justice and ethics. In addition, members of sections within the Society of Counseling Psychology that emphasize social justice concerns met to explore potential alliances (e.g., Section for the Advancement of Women [SAW], Section on Race and Ethnic Diversity [SERD], and the Section on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues [SLGBTI]). They chose the label “More Pie.” Rather than competing for the limited resources (or, a slice of the pie) that are typically designated for social justice groups, the name “More Pie” underlined efforts to collaborate to maximize and increase resources (Fouad, Gerstein, & Toporek, 2006).
Subsequent to initiatives explored in Houston, a variety of important articles on social justice in counseling psychology were published (e.g., Goodman et al., 2004; Speight & Vera, 2004; Toporek, Gerstein, Fouad, Roysircar, & Israel, 2006; Vera & Speight, 2003). Elizabeth Vera and Suzette Speight’s (2003) contribution linked social justice to the APA’s (2003) endorsement of the Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists. The six guidelines are highly relevant to multicultural feminist perspectives in counseling psychology. The first two guidelines emphasize the importance of self-examination of values and attitudes and the development of multicultural sensitivity, knowledge, and understanding of ethnically, racially, and culturally diverse persons. The third guideline calls on psychologists to embed multicultural and diversity constructs in education, and the fourth guideline elaborates on qualities of research that informs culture-centered and ethical research with persons from ethnic, linguistic, and racial minority backgrounds. The fifth guideline explores skills necessary for applied psychological practice, and the sixth guideline outlines the importance of organizational change processes (see Appendix A for a complete list of the six major guidelines).
(p. 11) Shortly thereafter, Lisa Goodman and colleagues (2004) called attention to both feminist and multicultural building blocks for social justice (for more information, see Miville, chapter 23 of this volume; Norsworthy et al., chapter 25 of this volume). In addition, the Handbook for Social Justice in Counseling Psychology (Toporek et al., 2006) expanded on various aspects of social justice, including ethical dimensions, education and training implications, themes relevant to marginalized communities, career dimensions, advocacy, and international aspects. Several contributions in this volume specifically focused on the nexus of feminism and multiculturalism, for example, chapters on advocacy in education and work (Fassinger & Gallor, 2006), intimate partner violence (Bell and Goodman, 2006), and women with disabilities (Palombi & Mundt, 2006). Thus, recent developments relevant to social justice in psychology have contributed to substantial movement toward integrative frameworks of multiculturalism and feminism.
Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Girls and Women
In 2000, the presidents of the Society of Counseling Psychology (Nadya Fouad) and the Society for the Psychology of Women (Jan Yoder) appointed three co-chairs (Roberta Nutt, Joy Rice, and Carolyn Zerbe Enns) to an interdivisional task force charged with revising the Principles Concerning the Counseling and Psychotherapy of Women and crafting a new set of guidelines that reflected twenty-first-century realities. The resulting guidelines, eventually adopted in 2007 by the APA Council of Representatives, are referred to frequently in later chapters of this Handbook. The 11 guidelines are included in Appendix B of this chapter, along with brief commentary about each guideline.
Consistent with the group process that provided a framework for the 1979 Principles, organizers of the 26-member task force that crafted the initial statements and literature review for the guidelines were committed to feminist process—a belief that how colleagues work together is central to achieving goals that ensure inclusivity and widespread involvement and endorsement. Knowing that integrating multicultural and feminist perspectives was central to the work ahead, task force members spent substantial time discussing the relationships between multiculturalism and feminism and discovered (to no one’s surprise) that group members’ thinking about entry points and methods for integration varied. For some, feminism was a point of entry and a vehicle for enriching our understanding of the complexities of girls’ and women’s rich multicultural experiences. For others, especially for women of color, multiculturalism was seen as encompassing a commitment to understanding diverse cultures, including gender cultures. From the latter perspective, the multiplicity of cultures in which we live provides the umbrella; feminism is more specific and provides a vehicle or methodology for generating change within cultures.
Discussions among task force members led to greater appreciation of the ways in which multiculturalism and feminism intersect, and the ways in which the positionalities and social identities of individuals are related to diverse forms of integration. Task force members concluded that understanding the diversity of women’s lives requires being attentive to oppression, privilege, and the celebration of differences; and that although one social identity or aspect of diversity may be experienced as preeminent in a given person’s life, other aspects of diversity and other identities are not erased but may be prioritized or relevant in different ways. A shared goal of this group was to be attentive to the multiple diversities, identities, and realities of women’s and girls’ lives (Enns & Rice, 2008).
The feminist process underlying the 2007 guidelines included (a) brainstorming via Internet and preliminary planning meetings; (b) small task group work products; (c) plenary sessions designed to identify overlap, similarities, and differences among small working groups; and (d) opportunities for members to “check in” to ensure that feelings and thoughts about the process itself were articulated. During the initial work phase (April 2002), small working groups met and were charged with developing guideline statements in four categories: (a) gender socialization, (b) power, (c) diversity, and (d) practice applications. After posting the 22 initial guideline statements that emerged in these groups, statements were placed into eight major clusters. After many hours of lively discussion, finessing of language, and restatement and clarification, a group of statements that correspond closely to the 11 statements that appear in the current guidelines emerged. Over time, multiple readers and groups within the APA (2002–2007) contributed to the further honing of the guidelines and the completion of literature reviews that supported each component (Enns & Rice, 2008; Nutt, 2008). Seven years after the appointment of task force chairs, the Guidelines for Psychological Practice With Girls and Women (p. 12) (APA, 2007a) were approved by the APA Council of Representatives. The 11 guidelines are organized into three broad categories: (a) diversity, social context, and power; (b) professional responsibility; and (c) practice applications (see Appendix B).
The guidelines reflect contemporary realities and perspectives, and represent an expansion of the original Principles in a variety of ways. First, they emphasize diversity among girls and women as well as intersectionality, or the interactions of specific social identities such as gender, race, sexual orientation, and class. The salience, impact, and importance of any specific social identity (such as gender, race, or class) vary substantially among girls and women. Furthermore, some girls and women experience the benefits of White, upper middle class, and heterosexual privilege; differences based on both privilege and oppression are acknowledged within these guidelines. In addition, the supporting literature review focuses on the impact of contemporary and more subtle forms of bias and oppression (e.g., racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism).
Second, these guidelines attend more explicitly than previous documents to the impact of power differences within society and address the importance of social change and social activism. In other words, gender neutral or non-biased treatment of individuals alone is not adequate for erasing social barriers and enduring problems such as violence against women, racism, classism, heterosexism, ableism, and other oppressions. The guidelines are consistent with the notion that social locations such as gender, race, and ethnicity are socially constructed and are intimately connected to power structures and to the “doing,” or enactment, of gender, culture, and other social identities.
Third, the guidelines emphasize a life span perspective and are based on the accumulated knowledge of more than 40 years of psychological research and theory about women’s and girls’ lives. They emphasize the complex knowledge relevant to working with girls and women at different life stages, and with different life experiences, ethnicities, abilities, and socioeconomic and class backgrounds. Integrated with this life span perspective is a biopsychosocial perspective on girls’ and women’s lives; biological, psychological, and cultural analyses are applied to female life span issues and events such as menstruation, reproduction, reproductive choice, childbirth, and menopause.
Fourth, contemporary issues relevant to assessment and diagnosis receive more explicit attention within the current guidelines than in previous guidelines. For example, the current guidelines address more explicitly the strengths, resources, creativity, and forms of resilience of girls and women. As such, they represent a “positive” feminist psychology, which is in line with counseling psychology’s historical focus on strengths and resilience (Gelso & Fretz, 2001). In addition, a more comprehensive and ecological systems perspective is prioritized. Since the initial publication of guidelines during the 1970s, the American Psychiatric Association’s (2000) Diagnostic and Statistical Manual has gained a more powerful and pervasive hold on perceptions of distress and systems of treatment, and the guidelines refocus attention to ways in which social systems inform life tasks and challenges, and thus attempt to counteract the heavy emphasis in the field of psychology on deficits and remediation.
Finally, unlike the original guidelines, which focused primarily on counseling and psychotherapy applications, these guidelines are based on an expansive definition that encompasses practice in its broadest sense. Psychological practice includes education, research, advocacy, psychotherapy, prevention, supervision, and consultation.
It is important to note that while task force members were crafting a new set of guidelines in the United States, a parallel process was again occurring in Canada. The Canadian process emerged from internal efforts to reexamine all policy statements (Church, Pettifor, & Malone, 2006). The committee charged with reviewing the Canadian guidelines in 2002 noted that much had changed since the first set of guidelines had been adopted in 1980. Although there was less need to document the existence of sexism (it had already been done) and women had made substantive gains in Canada, the momentum of feminist change had slowed during the 1990s, and many issues remained. A revision of the guidelines sought to take contemporary issues into account, including the need to (a) challenge systemic inequities that perpetuate women’s lower status; (b) address the well-documented physical and sexual victimization of girls and women; (c) emphasize the complexity of women’s lives based on their multiple contexts and diverse oppressions related to social identities such as nationality, race, religion, relationship status, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, age, and so on; and (d) highlight issues related to power differentials and overlapping relationships in psychotherapy relationships (Church, Pettifor, & Malone, 2006).
A new set of guidelines, named the Guidelines for Ethical Psychological Practice with Women, was (p. 13) approved by the CPA Board in 2007 (CPA). Each of the 21 guidelines is linked directly to one of the four major moral values that support the Canadian Code of Ethics for Psychologists. The CPA document also includes both positive and negative examples of the application of the guidelines. That the Canadian guidelines bear similarity to the guidelines developed within the APA in the United States is perhaps not surprising, and, in concluding this subsection, we note that our summary highlights North American practice themes. The development of guidelines that support inclusive and competent transnational practice represents an important future direction (Enns & Machizawa, 2008). The APA’s (2004a) Resolution on Culture and Gender Awareness in International Psychology represents one step toward this goal.
On Integrating Practice Guidelines
During the past decade, a variety of practice guidelines have been approved by the APA, including the Guidelines for Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (APA, 2003); Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Clients (APA, 2012a); Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women (APA, 2007a); Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Older Adults (APA, 2004b); and Guidelines for Assessment of and Intervention with Persons with Disabilities (2012b). A variety of reports have been tasked by the APA, and resolutions relevant to diverse social identities have been passed, such as the Resolution on Poverty and Socioeconomic Status (APA, 2000); the Report of the APA Task Force on Gender Identity and Gender Variance (APA, 2008); the Report of the APA Task Force on Appropriate Therapeutic Responses to Sexual Orientation (APA, 2009); the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls (APA, 2007b); and the Resolution on Gender and Culture Awareness in International Psychology (APA, 2004a). These kinds of documents and governance actions within the APA make clear the professional expectation that psychologists attend to human diversity in all of their work.
Each of the guidelines, reports, and resolutions also speaks to the importance of identifying biases and providing competent practice based on knowledge and sensitivity to the social identity addressed by the specific set of guidelines. In light of the growing complexity of being familiar with and applying these guidelines, a special task group was charged by the APA Society of Counseling Psychology and the Council of Counseling Psychology Training Programs (CCPTP) to explore and develop a framework for integrating the information contained within the various guidelines and promoting competence in multiple aspects of diversity (Miville et al., 2009; see also Miville, chapter 23 of this volume).
Marie Miville and co-authors (2009) proposed an integrative model that emphasized four cyclical stages: (a) understanding the multicultural self; (b) understanding others based on common themes across guidelines that are attentive to general social justice goals; (c) developing understanding and knowledge (e.g., specific cultural sensitivity and empathy) specific to each set of guidelines; and (d) building skills and strategies for competence. First, understanding oneself in the context of person-environment interactions, including one’s privileges and oppressions, “is a prerequisite for understanding the social and cultural experiences of others” (p. 540). Second, at the level of broad understanding, each set of guidelines shares the theme that “social oppression is a core experience of people with one or more minority statuses” (p. 540), and the development of critical consciousness of social, political, and economic oppressions is a crucial step for adopting a social justice approach to counseling psychology. Developing specific understanding and intervention skills requires the integrated application of all relevant guidelines to the specific client (e.g., related to the confluence of multiple identities), the application of specific guidelines as they are relevant to the specific concerns of a client (e.g., aging), and the application of multiple levels of intervention that are appropriate to the circumstances (e.g., social change/activism and/or individual counseling).
The task force (Miville et al., 2009) also identified a variety of challenges to applying this model. For example, although being attentive to multiple parallels between different identities and forms of privilege or oppression is important, it is crucial to validate the realities, struggles, and strengths associated with the individual’s unique identity. In addition, shared issues (e.g., interpersonal violence) may hold different meanings based on one’s multiple intersecting identities. Finding optimal approaches to pedagogy and the assessment of competence also pose challenges and will need further testing and refinement over time.
(p. 14) Counseling Psychology in Global Perspective
During the past decade, multiple Society of Counseling Psychology (Division 17) presidents have prioritized transnational efforts in counseling psychology (e.g., Louise Douce, Puncky Heppner, Roberta Nutt, Linda Forrest). A section within the division devoted to international counseling psychology also has been formed and is thriving. In her presidential address, Louise Douce (2004) spoke of the value of linking scholarship and practice relevant to domestic and international/transnational aspects of multiculturalism in order to support counseling psychology in a global context. In keeping with a global theme, the most recent national counseling psychology conference was titled the International Counseling Psychology Conference: Counseling Psychologists in a Changing World (see Forrest, 2010). In addition to featuring keynote addresses that were delivered by international scholars and a wide range of concurrent sessions relevant to the expanding roles of counseling psychologists, the conference incorporated a variety of working groups on topics such as transgender concerns, immigration, internationalizing counseling psychology, international collaborations and alliances, advocacy, practicing feminist/multicultural therapy in a conservative environment, and global psychological practice with girls and women. As psychologists move further into the twenty-first century, implications relevant to the integration of multiculturalism and feminism continue to expand.
Feminist Multicultural Counseling Psychology: Evolving Perspectives
Across the time periods and events relevant to feminist and multicultural psychology, growth and positive change have been evident, despite the enormous complexity of the integrative task. With growing knowledge of this complexity, early understandings and definitions have been reworked and continue to evolve. In this section, we briefly outline some of these major areas of evolution, growth, and change, noting their relevance to the contents of this handbook.
Evolving Concepts of Sex, Gender, Sexuality, and Intersecting Social Identities
Researchers and theorists have focused on defining and differentiating between the terms “sex” and “gender” since the 1950s (Muehlenhard & Peterson, 2011). Rhoda Unger and Mary Crawford (1992) defined gender as “what culture makes out [of] the ‘raw material’ of biological sex” (p. 18). Consistent with this idea, feminist psychologists consistently have endorsed the notion that gender is about “doing” or activity, and often involves self-presentation efforts that can be referred to as “gender display” or “gender accomplishment” (West & Zimmerman, 1987; Golden, 2008). Differentiating between sex as biology and gender as the enactment of social meanings associated with cultural views of maleness and femaleness has offered good utility during the past 40 years, in part because it allowed feminist psychologists to challenge myths about biological sex/gender differences and to emphasize the social creation and social construction of sex and gender-related behaviors. It also has provided a framework for understanding multicultural variations in gender, as well as how ecological contexts modify gender.
However, boundaries between sex and gender, or nature and nurture, increasingly are seen as less distinct. As noted by Jan Yoder (2003), “sex isn’t as immutable as we might have thought at first” (p. 17), leading her to suggest that we regard “sex and gender as inseparable and intertwined” (p. 17). Marecek, Crawford, and Popp (2004) noted that “sex, like gender, draws meaning from shifting cultural understanding and ever-changing social practices” (p. 207). Similarly, feminist theorist Judith Butler (1990) argued that physical bodies are gendered from birth, and sex does not exist without gender. Growing awareness of queer, intersexual, transsexual, transgendered, and other non-dichotomous identities also is consistent with the view that differentiating strictly between sex and gender can lead to placing individuals in arbitrary, dichotomous categories.
Recent research on sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual minority women’s experiences also reveals that change, fluidity, multidimensional identities, and boundary crossing often are more normative than stability and consistency (Diamond & Butterworth, 2008; Fassinger & Israel, 2010). A “gender transgressive” (Fassinger & Arseneau, 2007) approach to understanding the identity development of sexual minorities allows for a more flexible approach that takes into account intersections among sexual orientation, gender orientation, and cultural orientation (including ethnicity/race, social class, disability, and religion), as well as individual differences and developmental experiences.
Whereas gender and sex once were defined as distinctive (biological and social aspects), there is now greater awareness in psychology of the “messiness,” fluidity, and complexities of these boundaries. (p. 15) Changing views of gender and sex also are reflected in more complex understandings of factors that interact with sex and gender, such as culture, ethnicity/race, age, ability/disability, and sexual orientation (Bieschke, Hardy, Fassinger, & Croteau, 2008; Greene, 2003; Moradi, Mohr, Worthington, & Fassinger, 2009; Shields, 2008). Multiple social identities characterize individuals’ lives, and these identities (e.g., ethnicity/race, class, sexual orientation), vary in salience and significance for the individuals across contexts and a life span, and “mutually constitute” (Shields, 2008, p. 302) each other such that gender and sex take on meaning only in relationship to other identities. In other words, our greater difficulty differentiating precisely between sex and gender also is reflected in our growing understanding that we cannot neatly carve out “effects” related to multicultural and feminist definitions and understandings. Both feminism and multiculturalism need to be flexible enough to reflect ways in which culture, gender, and many other social identities mutually constitute each other. This sense of reciprocal influence is reflected across most of the chapters in this volume, such as life span development (Juntunen & Bauman, chapter 3), concepts of mental health (Ancis & Davidson, chapter 4), feminist identity development (Fischer & DeBord, chapter 5), and career development (Hackett & Kohlhart, chapter 14).
Evolving Concepts of Power, Oppression, and Privilege
Oppression historically has been considered a central concept within feminist theory, and as stated by Marilyn Frye (1983), “it is a fundamental claim of feminism that women are oppressed” (p. 1). Although recognizing the reality of diverse “isms” that affect individuals, second wave radical feminists tended to define gender and sexism as the original, fundamental, and most pervasive form of oppression experienced by women. Lesbian Black feminist members of the Combahee River Collective (1982) were among the first to challenge this view, and made important contributions that are a cornerstone of contemporary feminist multicultural thought. Central to the Collective’s thinking was the “simultaneity of oppression” (Smith, 1983, p. xxxii) and a refusal to rank oppressions related to class, race, or gender. Collective members also recommended that specific groups of women (e.g., Black women, Latinas) should identify the ways in which multiple identities and oppressions inform their experiences. This encouragement to explore specific realities of diverse groups of women (e.g., women of color, lesbians) has supported the development of knowledge and feminisms by, about, and for specific groups of women (e.g., Collins, 2000; Hurtado, 2003; Nam, 2001). Becky Thompson (2002) also provided evidence that although second wave feminism has been stereotyped as a White women’s movement, multicultural and multiracial feminisms have challenged feminists to provide inclusive and intersectional visions of feminism since the early 1970s.
Black feminist theorist Patricia Hill Collins (1991) built on themes in the Combahee River Collective by speaking of race, class, and gender as interlocking systems of oppression; and used the phrase “matrix of domination” (p. 225) to signify the complex, exponential ways in which “isms” interact. She noted: “Depending on the context, an individual may be an oppressor, a member of an oppressed group, or simultaneously oppressor and oppressed” (p. 225). Collins also used the term “intersectionality” to refer to an “analysis claiming that systems of race, social class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, nation, and age form mutually constructing features of social organization” (2000, p. 299). This emphasis on context, which was also elaborated by other multiracial (e.g., Zinn & Dill, 1996), anti-racist (Calliste, Dei, & Aguiar, 2000), and women of color feminists (e.g., Hurtado, 2003, 2010), contributed to the growing awareness of ways in which power, privilege, and oppression interact. Peggy McIntosh’s (1989) discussion of White privilege also led to enhanced recognition of ways in which social power contributes to invisible and unearned privilege, and her analysis has been expanded to encompass male privilege, heterosexual privilege, class privilege, Western privilege, Christian privilege, and other forms of privilege (Israel, 2012).
Power is also central to oppression, privilege, and the enactment of various “isms.” Consistent with this theme, Abigail Stewart and Christa McDermott (2004) indicated that “gender is increasingly understood as defining a system of power relations embedded in other power relations” (p. 519). The multiple social identities held by individuals are realized in power structures and social locations, and an individual may experience power and empowerment in some contexts and not others. During the past 40 years, feminists have moved from relatively simplistic and singular assumptions about oppression to recognizing the complexity and the interwoven, seemingly infinite number of combinations of interacting effects of power, privilege, and oppression. This complexity informs a feminist multicultural (p. 16) perspective and defies “one size fits all” types of analyses and solutions. Within the third section of this volume, authors focus on specific identity categories in order to inform readers of central, shared, and unique issues that characterize their life experiences. They also use an intersectional perspective to reflect the ways in which women with any shared identity also represent multiple forms and levels of diversity.
This volume features chapters relevant to a wide range of women’s social identities and diversities, but given the diversity of women’s identities, our coverage is not comprehensive (e.g., the volume does not include a separate chapter on indigenous or American Indian women). Specific chapters focus on African American women (Speight, Isom, & Thomas, chapter 6); lesbians, bisexual women, and transgender individuals (Szymanski & Hilton, chapter 7); women in poverty (Smith, Appio, & Chang, chapter 8); Latinas (Gloria & Castellanos, chapter 9); women with disabilities (Palombi, chapter 11); American Muslim women (Mahmood, chapter 12); and transnational contexts (Horne & Arora, chapter 13).Finally, social identity models (e.g., feminist or identity), which conceptualize individual development in response to marginalized, low-power status, provide lenses for thinking about how individuals negotiate personal identities in response to oppression. Although past models have tended to focus on single identities (e.g., gay identity, feminist identity, racial/ethnic identity), recent emphasis on intersectionality and the borders and boundaries between identities indicate that it is important to rethink theory and research on this topic, a direction that is explored by Ann Fischer and Kurt DeBord (chapter 5).
Evolving Concepts of Bias and “Isms”
At the dawn of the civil rights and feminist movements of the 1960s, much research focused on studying relatively blatant or obvious forms of bias and prejudice and the ways in which they were manifested. By the mid-1990s, researchers concluded that blatant racism and sexism had decreased substantially, and that assessing these “isms” had become increasingly difficult in a social climate in which appearing unprejudiced was expected and expressing racist or sexist attitudes was becoming increasingly unpopular (Campbell, Schellenberg, & Senn, 1997). Psychologists also became more aware that acts of bias, racism, sexism, heterosexism, or classism cannot be conceptualized as individual acts alone, but often are embedded in institutional structures and social norms that perpetuate the status quo but are difficult to change (Herek & Garnets, 2007; Margolis & Romero, 1998; Ridley, 2005). However, one’s ability to recognize and acknowledge the power of institutionalized “isms” may be compromised by the individualistic values that permeate much of Western society, supporting the notion that individuals can overcome negative circumstances through their personal efforts alone.
Modern racist and modern sexist attitudes (Swim, Aikin, Hall, & Hunter, 1995; Swim, Becker, Lee, & Pruitt, 2010) are characterized by denial that racism and sexism exist within contemporary society and the assumption that people of various marginalized groups expect special favors. Resentment about perceived unearned advances of those from low-power groups and the presence of “reverse racism” also is a common feature. Even more subtle than these modern “isms” are the behaviors of well-intentioned individuals who, though desiring to be unprejudiced, often are influenced by internal conflicts as well as non-conscious attitudes and behaviors that limit their ability to relate to others in genuinely egalitarian ways. For example, ambivalent racism and ambivalent sexism (Glick & Fiske, 2001) are characterized in part by benevolent forms of bias. Benevolent biases are characterized by apparently positive acts and attitudes that also serve (often unconsciously) to reinforce existing power differences and justify existing systemic biases. Furthermore, research on aversive racism (Dovidio, Gaertner, Kawakami, & Hodson, 2002) reveals that subtle racist acts or attitudes only are manifested when they can be “explained away” by other variables. Implicit, non-conscious biases can have a negative impact on productivity and task quality. For example, research reveals that stereotypes about one’s group can be internalized as “stereotype threat” at a non-conscious level, and depress the performance of otherwise high-achieving individuals (Steele, 2010). The impacts of both benevolent “isms” and stereotype threat are that they are difficult for the target to detect and also are challenging to identify or legitimize as forms of bias. As a result, the performance or self-concept of victims of these subtle interpersonal dynamics may suffer due to the internalization and self-questioning that these behaviors often induce (Dardenne, Dumont, & Bollier, 2007).
Although blatant forms of racism and sexism are less obvious within contemporary society, opposition to the civil and legal rights of gender-transgressive sexual minorities still is considered (p. 17) acceptable in many contexts (Fassinger & Arseneau, 2007). Gregory Herek has been documenting the effects of individual and institutional stigma on the mental health of sexual minority populations for at least two decades (e.g., Herek, 1991, 1995, 2007, 2010), and Ilan Meyer (e.g., 1995) has applied the minority stress model to LGBT populations to account for the well-documented negative mental health outcomes associated with prejudice and discrimination. Moreover, despite some recent gains in securing legal rights relevant to marriage, parenting, and health care for sexual minority people, it bears pointing out that even these legislative gains are hard-won in public battles that exhibit almost unthinkable hatred and anti-gay rhetoric. Research demonstrates the negative effects of these anti-gay political and legislative events on sexual minority populations, even when outcomes are generally positive (Rostosky, Riggle, Horne, & Miller, 2009). Thus, it is quite clear that equality is still elusive for many LGBT people, and continues to be an important civil rights issue that ultimately translates into mental health issues that need to be addressed by psychologists.
In general, contemporary and subtle forms of bias and intricate interactions of sexism, racism, heterosexism, ageism, ableism, and classism inform the intersectional analyses of authors within this handbook. The actions emanating from subtle forms of bias also are addressed, such as Barbara Palombi’s analysis (chapter 11) of microaggressions experienced by women with disabilities. The concept of “gendered racism” (Thomas, Witherspoon, & Speight, 2008) is based on the assumption that racism and sexism are inseparable as experienced by many women of color. Suzette Speight, Denise Isom, and Anita Thomas (chapter 6) provide analysis of gendered racism by examining stereotyped images of African American women. Assessment of the interacting aspects of various “isms” experienced by women also is a feature of feminist multicultural therapy (see Remer & Hahn, chapter 16).
Evolving Approaches to Research and Evidence
As noted in the first section of this chapter, some of the first efforts to reduce bias in research focused on expanding the purview and scope of research by implementing non-sexist practices, asking unbiased questions, using representative samples (e.g., women, people of color), interpreting data objectively, and attending to interactions influenced by cultural values (Denmark, Russo, Frieze, & Sechzer, 1988). However, Sandra Harding (1986) argued that the attempted non-sexist use of quantitative methods did not provide tools for challenging flawed assumptions about the structure of knowledge. Janice Yoder and Arnold Kahn (1993) also noted that, even when researchers expanded their participant pools to include persons who were marginalized, these groups often were compared to samples of White women, which reinforced the implicit assumption that White heterosexual women’s experiences were normative, and imposed a yardstick for assessing how other groups “measured up” to dominant White women’s cultural standards. In contrast, “standpoint theories” and qualitative research methods were seen as emphasizing the in-depth exploration of the experiences of diverse groups of individuals. These methods purportedly allowed marginalized persons to explore their deep and personal knowledge as persons with outsider status who had gained insider perspectives. This knowledge had been acquired by living according to the rules of dominant society and by developing fine-tuned lenses for detecting nuances, hypocrisies, contradictions, and inconsistencies that powerful individuals had difficulty seeing in themselves (Collins, 1991; Harding, 1986).
By the late 1980s and early 1990s, psychologists (e.g., Hare-Mustin & Marecek, 1990; Peplau & Conrad, 1989; Riger, 1992) made a case for approaching research through multiple lenses and approaches. More specifically, the claim began to be made that all research methods, including “objective” methods, are embedded within a value system, that all epistemologies and related research practices have both strengths and limitations, and that all findings represent “snapshots” at a particular point in time and are subject to political, social, and historical forces and interpretations. During the past two decades, multicultural and feminist psychology have been enriched by a rich array of research approaches and findings, typically based on a combination of qualitative and quantitative findings. Social justice emphases in counseling psychology also have led to increased interest in participatory action research (PAR). PAR centralizes the needs of specific, typically underserved communities; entails collaboration with community members in the designing, implementation, and interpretation of research; and results in an action phase designed to address problems that are clarified by the research findings (see Smith, Appio, & Chang, chapter 8).
Unlike many handbooks within psychology, this volume does not include a separate chapter (p. 18) on research approaches. As can be seen from the contents of the chapters, authors value many different forms of theoretical and research evidence, and emphasize the importance of raising questions about the function and implications of all forms of research. In their chapter on social identity development, for example, Ann Fischer and Kurt DeBord (chapter 5) use critical power analysis to evaluate existing models of feminist social identity. Tools for engaging in this analysis include asking who benefits from specific research framing or findings, how power and privilege shape perspectives, who is or is not represented in findings, and how contexts or power dynamics may be obscured by the research approach. Critical power analysis also involves raising critical thinking questions about research questions, methods, interpretations, and the motivations of researchers. We invite readers who wish to gain more specific information about the uses of qualitative and quantitative methods in counseling psychology to refer to the excellent and multiple sources that provide more specific description; Betz and Fassinger (2011) provide a thorough overview of both quantitative and qualitative approaches, and other resources focus on either qualitative or qualitative methods more specifically (e.g., Carter, 2006a, 2006b; Carter & Morrow, 2007; Haverkamp, Morrow, & Ponterotto, 2005; Hill, 2012).
Evolving Concepts of Feminist Multicultural Theory, Ethics, Practice, and Social Justice
As noted earlier in this chapter, the ethnocentrism of White feminists often has been identified as a barrier to inclusive feminisms and social justice (see Enns, 2004, for a history). The “grand theories” (Jaggar, 2008) that emerged from the second wave women’s movement often sought to provide comprehensive, unified explanations of gender oppression, and provided limited information about borders and intersections among oppressions, power, and privilege. In general, these theories quickly outlived their utility and gave way to social constructionist, multicultural, and diversity feminisms that critiqued hidden assumptions underlying grand theories, such as the assumption that women across cultures, time periods, and circumstances share similar needs and oppressions. Multicultural and locational feminisms (Enns, 2010) increasingly underlined the geography and time specificity of privilege, power, and oppression and provided a foundation for flexible feminisms and practice. Women of color feminists provided insightful analyses from their specific standpoints as African American women (e.g., Collins, 1991, 2000), Chicana feminists (e.g., Hurtado, 2003; Moya, 2001), Asian American women (e.g., Chin, 2000), and Native American women (Smith, 2005). In addition, lesbian feminists and queer theorists identified heterosexism within feminist theory and published correctives that focus on the diversity of lesbian/queer experience (Bieschke et al., 2008; Brown, 1994; Garber, 2001; Rudy, 2001).
Locational, multicultural feminisms and feminist multicultural ethics (see Brabeck & Brabeck, chapter 2) highlight the (a) socially constructed, variable, and changing nature of all social identities; (b) decenter and restructure dominant and Eurocentric forms of knowledge; (c) explain oppressions based on multiple social identities, while highlighting strengths and survival skills based on such identities that support empowerment and decolonization; and (d) emphasize the importance of embedding all theoretical understanding in the concrete realities of individuals’ lives. A variety of feminist multicultural practices are built on these themes across psychotherapy practice (see Remer & Hahn, chapter 16; Morrow & Hawxhurst, chapter 18; Nutt, chapter 19), teaching/pedagogy (Sinacore, Ginsberg, & Kassan, chapter 22), supervision (Miville, chapter 23), mentoring (Gormley, chapter 24), and social justice (Norsworthy, Abrams, & Lindlau, chapter 25). Given the fact that counseling and psychotherapy are major activities and priorities of counseling psychologists, this volume also features feminist multicultural counseling practices with specific groups such as men (Mintz & Tager, chapter 17), traumatized individuals (Courtois, chapter 20), individuals with eating and body image problems (Kashubeck-West & Tagger, chapter 21), and couples/families (Nutt, chapter 19). These latter chapters represent a sample of the areas in which feminist multicultural counseling psychologists have developed expertise.
Organization of This Handbook
The chapters following this introductory overview survey theory, research, and practice with the intent of presenting a snapshot of the current status of feminist multicultural counseling psychology. Part I introduces foundational topics that have been central to counseling psychology over time: ethical foundations (Brabeck & Brabeck, chapter 2), life span development (Juntunen & Bauman, chapter 3), mental health in ecological context (Ancis & Davidson, chapter 4), and social identity development (Fischer & DeBord, chapter 5). Part II explores perspectives relevant (p. 19) to specific social locations or identities: African American women (Speight, Isom, & Thomas, chapter 6); lesbians, bisexual women, and transgendered persons (Szymanski & Hilton, chapter 7); women in poverty (Smith, Appio, & Chang, chapter 8), Latinas (Gloria & Castellanos, chapter 9), Asian American women (Suzuki, Ahluwalia, & Alimchandani, chapter 10), women with disabilities (Palombi, chapter 11), American Muslim women (Mahmood, chapter 12), and women in transnational contexts (Horne & Arora, chapter 13). Authors have brought a variety of approaches to these chapters, sometimes providing a broad overview, sometimes emphasizing a subset of issues and concerns facing women with specific social identities, and sometimes integrating personal stories within the chapter. In all cases, authors speak to the complexity and diversity of women in a given category and bring an intersectional focus to their writing. Although the topics in this section discuss many social identity categories of interest to feminist multicultural counseling psychologists, we also are aware that this section easily could have been doubled in length and still would have been less than comprehensive! When identities of interest to the reader are missing, we hope that the approaches taken by authors in this section will provide direction for those seeking information about additional groups of women.
Part III explores a variety of theory and practice areas to which counseling psychologists have contributed. Career theory and practice (Hackett &Kohlart, chapter 14), and work challenges related to sexual harassment and career-life balance (Ormerod, Joseph, Weitzman, & Winterrowd, chapter 15) highlight distinctive and unique contributions of counseling psychologists to psychological theory and practice. As the title of the specialty implies, counseling psychologists also contributed to the early literature on feminist therapy (e.g., Gilbert, 1980) and multicultural counseling (Sue, Arredondo, & McDavis, 1992) as well as to multicultural guidelines (APA, 2003) and guidelines for practice with women and girls (APA, 2007). It should come as no surprise that explorations of the intersections of feminism and multiculturalism within counseling and therapy have been a priority. In light of this reality, Part III features the empowerment model of feminist therapy (Remer & Hahn, chapter 16), feminist therapy with men (Mintz & Tager, chapter 17), multicultural feminist therapy (Morrow & Hawxhurst, chapter 18), couples and family counseling/therapy (Nutt, chapter 19), feminist multicultural therapy with traumatized individuals (Courtois, chapter 20), and feminist multicultural perspectives on body image and eating disorders (Kashubeck-West & Tagger, chapter 21). As with the major section on specific social identities (Part II), this section could also have been expanded substantially to focus on many other applications of feminist multicultural themes to counseling and psychotherapy.
The final section of this handbook, Part IV, explores the major practice areas of training, advocacy, and social justice. chapter 22 (Sinacore, Ginsberg, & Kassan) on multicultural feminist and social justice pedagogies outlines principles that are relevant to teaching at all levels of education, and chapter 23 (Miville) on multicultural feminist training, supervision, and continuing education explores themes relevant to graduate and lifelong learning. chapter 24 (Gormley) on feminist multicultural mentoring discusses themes for supporting women’s growth and development across life domains, and the final chapter (Norsworthy, Abrams, & Lindlau) speaks about the extension of feminist multicultural perspectives in the service of social change.
The topics addressed in this chapter represent a brief introduction to the rich content that follows in the next 24 chapters. The contents of these chapters represent the culmination of more than 40 years of theory, research, and practice relevant to the lives of diverse groups of women. We hope that readers find the information in this handbook to be useful for research, training, practice, and advocacy. Likewise, we hope that readers are challenged to re-analyze their own perspectives on the issues in this handbook, and that they use a feminist multicultural counseling psychology framework to guide future work that propels counseling psychology into new, courageous, and pioneering directions.
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Commitment to Cultural Awareness and Knowledge of Self and Others
Guideline 1: Psychologists are encouraged to recognize that, as cultural beings, they may hold attitudes and beliefs that can detrimentally influence their perceptions of and interactions with individuals who are ethnically and racially different from them.
Guideline 2: Psychologists are encouraged to recognize the important of multicultural sensitivity/responsiveness to, knowledge of, and understanding about ethnically and racially different adults.
Guideline 3: As educators, psychologists are encouraged to employ the constructs of multiculturalism and diversity in psychological education.
Guideline 4: Culturally sensitive psychological researchers are encouraged to recognize the importance of conducting culture-centered and ethical psychological research among people from ethnic, linguistic, and racial minority backgrounds.
Guideline 5: Psychologists are encouraged to apply culturally appropriate skills in clinical and other applied psychological practices.
Organizational Change and Policy Development
Guideline 6: Psychologists are encouraged to use organizational change processes to support culturally informed organizational (policy) development practices.
Appendix B: Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Girls and Women (APA, 2007)
Section One: Diversity, Social Context, and Power
Guideline 1: Psychologists strive to be aware of the effects of socialization, stereotyping, and unique life events on the development of girls and women across diverse cultural groups.
From the text: “Each girl and woman is socialized within a unique cultural milieu and set of visible and invisible social group memberships that may include, but are not limited to, gender, race/ethnicity, class, age, sexual orientation, SES, spiritual orientation, nationality, physical or cognitive ability, and body size. The multiple group memberships of girls and women intersect and influence each other and are enacted within the family and cultural institutions (schools, religion), through peer influences, and within media” (p. 960).
Guideline 2: Psychologists are encouraged to recognize and utilize information about oppression, privilege, and identity development as they may affect girls and women.
(p. 25) From the text: “Because girls and women have multiple personal and social group memberships, they may simultaneously belong to both socially privileged and disempowered groups (e.g., White, heterosexual, lower SES, and female) or to multiple socially oppressed groups (e.g., African American, female, lesbian, disabled)…. Saliency of a particular identity is determined by several factors, including socialization experiences and the amount of social support received in a particular situation…. Psychologists are encouraged to identify the social group memberships of girls and women, the extent to which they accept or deny these memberships, their experiences of oppression and/or privilege within the context of these memberships, and their abilities to resist confining or oppressive messages” (p. 961).
Guideline 3: Psychologists strive to understand the impact of bias and discrimination on the physical and mental health of those with whom they work.
From the text: “Bias and discrimination are embedded in and driven by organizational, institutional, and social structures. These dynamics legitimize and foster inequities, influence personal relationships, and affect the perception and treatment of a person’s metal and behavioral problems” (p. 961). The narrative elaborates further on the impact of the following systems: health, education, the workplace, religious institutions, legal systems, family and couple systems, and research methods and language.
Section Two: Professional Responsibility
Guideline 4: Psychologists strive to use gender sensitive and culturally sensitive, affirming practices in providing services to girls and women.
From the text: “Psychologists strive to be knowledgeable about the theoretical and empirical support for the assessment, treatment, research, consultation, teaching, and supervision practices they use with girls and women. Psychologists are encouraged to be aware of assumptions in theory, research, and practice that are noninclusive and to use theories and practices that pay equal attention to relational and autonomous qualities…. They are urged to show caution when using methods that have not been developed with the specific needs of diverse groups of girls and women in mind” (p. 964).
Guideline 5: Psychologists are encouraged to recognize how their socialization, attitudes, and knowledge about gender may affect their practice with girls and women.
From the text: “The practice of psychologists is likely to be influenced by their culture, values, biases, socialization, and experiences of privilege and oppression or disempowerment. Limited self-knowledge may contribute to subtle belief systems that can be potentially harmful to girls and women with diverse social identities…. Psychologists are encouraged to gain specialized education, training, and experience with issues particularly relevant to the experiences and problems of women and girls” (p. 965).
Section Three: Practice Applications
Guideline 6: Psychologists are encouraged to use interventions and approaches that have been found to be effective in the treatment of issues of concern to girls and women.
From the text: “Psychologists are therefore encouraged to (a) implement interventions that encourage the development of protective factors, such as healthy relationships and body image, (b) reframe girls’ and women’s concerns from a coping and ecological perspective, and (c) emphasize a strength and empowerment perspective in psychotherapy treatment, research, advocacy, teaching, consultation, and supervision” (p. 966).
Guideline 7: Psychologists strive to foster therapeutic relationships and practices that promote initiative, empowerment, and expanded alternatives and choices for girls and women.
From the text: “Cooperative mutuality and connection facilitate psychotherapy, supervision, teaching, and consultation (p. 966). Empowerment flourishes in an environment of safety, and this condition is protected by appropriate boundaries…. Psychologists are encouraged to make efforts to help women develop an improved sense of initiative, resilience, and personal power and to help them expand their nonstereotyped alternatives and choices” (p. 967).
Guideline 8: Psychologists strive to provide appropriate, unbiased assessments and diagnoses in their work with girls and women.
From the text: “Psychologists, therefore, strive to make unbiased, appropriate assessments and diagnoses by considering … the following: development experiences, physical and psychological health, violence and other traumatic events, life history (including experiences of privilege and discrimination), social and kinship support systems, educational and work experiences, geographical and national affiliation influences, various (p. 26) multiple group memberships, and other relevant aspects related to the cultural context as it uniquely interacts with gender. Assessment tools, such a social, cultural, and gender-role identity analyses, may be especially useful…. Psychologists are also urged to show caution when using assessment procedures and tests developed in the United States in countries in which cultural differences and norms have not been considered” (p. 968).
Guideline 9: Psychologists strive to consider the problems of girls and women in their sociopolitical context.
From the text: “To support the personal growth, independence, and empowerment of girls and women, psychologists strive to integrate cultural and contextual information into their conceptualizations and interventions. Such contextual factors include immigration, race, ethnicity, geography (e.g., rural or urban residence), sexual orientation, disability, SES, age, and other sociocultural influences” (p. 968).
Guideline 10: Psychologists strive to acquaint themselves with and utilize relevant mental health, education, and community resources for girls and women.
From the text: “Psychologists strive to become knowledgeable about community resources and to consult others with expertise about community resources” (p. 969).
Guideline 11: Psychologists are encouraged to understand and work to change institutional and systemic bias that may impact girls and women.
From the text: “Psychologists are encouraged to participate in prevention, education, and social policy as forms of psychological practice that improve the mental health and lives of women and girls … [and] to support their clients’ contributions to positive microlevel and/or macrolevel actions that increase a sense of empowerment and influence” (p. 969).