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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of the influence of cross-cultural training on counsellor perception of minority client problems Margolis, Rhonda L.


This study explored the influence of cross-cultural training on counsellor attention to cultural factors in a client's presenting problem. The following questions were examined: Is there a difference between students who have taken cross-cultural training (trained group) and those who have not (untrained group) in attention to cultural factors in a client's presenting problem? Further, is there a difference between the two groups in the perceived significance of client information in defining the client's problem? Attention to cultural factors was measured by asking participants to write a brief description of the client's problem after viewing a videotape of a simulated initial counselling session. The problem definition was later coded for level of cultural awareness. An assessment of the differences between trained and untrained students in terms of significance of client information was achieved by conducting an analysis of participants' Q-sorts of client statements from most to least meaningful in defining the client's problem. In addition, the Wayne Ethnic Awareness Scale was administered in order to assess the level of ethnic awareness of all participants. No significant differences in level of cultural awareness were shown, on either the problem definition or the Wayne Ethnic Awareness Scale, between counselling students who had taken a cross-cultural training course and those who had not. The research established a positive relationship between the problem definition and the Wayne Ethnic Awareness measure. The Q-analysis of sorting patterns appeared to indicate that differences in perception of meaningful information may have existed as a consequence of differences in level of cultural awareness. Although this study did not provide conclusive evidence regarding the impact of cross-cultural training, it did point to an important area for further attention by educators. The results indicated that fifty percent of all the students in the study were assessed as being low in cultural awareness. The consequences of low cultural awareness could range from a client not returning for therapy after initial sessions because he or she does not feel that the counsellor understands him or her, to a misinterpretation or misdiagnosis of client behaviour resulting in an inappropriate counsellor intervention. Such misunderstanding could potentially be detrimental, not only to the counselling relationship, but to the client's well-being. There is a need for further research to determine the impact of cross-cultural training programs on counsellor perceptions and interventions in cross-cultural interactions. It would also be valuable to investigate further the applicability of Q-methodology in cross-cultural research and training.

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