Reference Work Entry

Handbook of Clinical Psychology Competencies

pp 95-122

Cultural Diversity

  • Martin J. La RocheAffiliated withHarvard Medical School
  • , Michael S. ChristopherAffiliated withPacific University


In this chapter we present the theoretical and practical underpinnings of our culturally competent practice in psychology model. This contextually based model complements traditional clinical interventions by providing psychotherapists with a conceptual frame to guide culturally sensitive psychotherapy practice. To accomplish this goal we begin the chapter by providing an overview of the literature on cultural competence and describe several prominent cultural competency definitions, models, and guidelines. Second, we review individualistic, relational, and contextual interventions, and propose an integrative multidimensional approach in which we address strengths and weaknesses of these interventions vis-à-vis cultural competence guidelines. Third, we outline a three stage model with specific interventions that clinicians can use to enhance their cultural sensitivity in working with diverse clients. Derived from an integrative multidimensional approach, these three stages are: 1) addressing chief complaints and reducing symptoms, 2) understanding narratives, and 3) fostering empowerment. Fourth, we illustrate this approach with a clinical example and conclude with a discussion of the possibilities and challenges posed by these ideas as well as areas for future research.