UST/CAPS Culture and Diversity Training Program Philosophy

Adapted with permission from Sanchez, O. Stinson, R. & Strom, T. (2018, May). Providing Cultural Competency Training in a Psychology Training Program: A Paradigm Shift. Session presented at the 2018 APPIC Conference, San Antonio, TX.

The doctoral internship in Health Service Psychology at the University of St. Thomas Counseling and Psychological Services is committed to training from a culturally competent perspective. The internship program is based on the idea that psychology practice is enhanced, and more effective, with a broader and more adept view of what it is to be human – with infinite cultural variations and individual differences. We believe that it is our ethical responsibility, as clinicians and trainers to intentionally use our skills, knowledge, awareness, and sensitivity to effectively communicate and function within any given diverse context or encounter. As such, our cultural competency training focuses on the development and demonstration of the following domains:

Cultural Skill: We believe that cultural competence is not only comprised of values and principles but a set of demonstrated skills (e.g., knowledge, awareness, sensitivity). We believe cultural competence as key to the therapeutic relationship and an essential clinical skill for all psychologists.

Cultural Knowledge: We believe that being knowledgeable about an individual’s unique worldview (e.g., values, beliefs, etc.) is essential for cultural competency. Our goal is to help interns develop the skill of knowing how to effectively gather cultural knowledge from several sources to best serve the needs of individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds.

Cultural Awareness: We believe cultural awareness and sensitivity are the core components of the cultural competency. We place high value and focus on cultural awareness training, both as a valued perspective and demonstrable skill. We ask and expect interns to actively reflect and process how their personal attitudes and biases affect how they understand and interact with individuals and groups different from themselves. We aim to foster and promote a perspective that values cultural awareness, as a life-long skill, both personally and professionally.

Cultural Sensitivity: Cultural sensitivity is an attitude in which the psychologist embodies openness and flexibility when working with individuals and groups from diverse backgrounds. We believe that cultural sensitivity relies on the development of skills, such as self-reflection and effective gathering of cultural knowledge. Furthermore, we believe that cultural awareness is the foundation of cultural competency, while cultural sensitivity is the experiential process where we are aware of our personal worldview, aware of our clients’ worldview, and we intentionally integrate both perspectives to form the therapeutic relationship and to inform treatment, supervision, assessment, and/or consultation/outreach.

Our cultural competency training program philosophy is enacted in all of our program’s activities, including individual and group supervisions, individual and group therapy, the multicultural assessment battery, intern seminars, reflective and culturally informed supervision, consultation, and crisis intervention training, outreach activities with diverse campus groups, multicultural case consultation, culturally informed case presentations, culture sharing activities, CAPS cultural community outings, consultative liaisons with diverse campus partners and student groups, culturally informed triage and intake procedures, culturally informed psychological assessment training, and reciprocal evaluation process.


Updated September 2018;djb

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