2009 no. 4

A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF THE COMPETENCE OF COUNSELORS IN THE UNITED STATES IN COUNSELING ARAB AMERICANS AND OTHER RACIAL/ETHNIC GROUPS

Mira F. Sabbah, Julie A. Dinsmore, David D. Hof
University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA

Background. Increasing diversification of the United States population has highlighted the need for mental health professionals to gain competence in cross-cultural counseling. Professional ethical codes have been revised to reflect this need, multicultural counseling competencies have been developed, and standards for training programs require curriculum in cross-cultural counseling. In spite of increased research concerning counseling clients from diverse groups, few studies have been conducted concerning counseling Arabs or Arab Americans.

Purpose. This study explores (1) the perceptions of counselors in the United States about the importance of cultural competence in counseling Arab Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino Americans, and American Indians, (2) their current skill levels in counseling members of these groups, and (3) the extent and source of counselors’ knowledge about Arab worldview.

Method and Results. Results of a survey of a random sample of counselors in the state of Nebraska indicate that, although counselors perceive cultural competence in counseling Arabs as important, they lack knowledge of Arab worldview and perceive themselves to be less competent in counseling this group than other major minority groups in American society. The most common source of knowledge about Arabs was newspapers, a source shown to often portray Arabs in negative stereotypic images that promote anti-Arab bias.

Conclusions. Results imply counselor training programs should include more comprehensive information about Arab American culture in their curriculum and provide an opportunity for students to socially interact with this population. Practicing counselors should advocate for and initiate activities intended to raise others’ knowledge about this ethnic group.

Key words. Diversity, Multicultural Counseling, Arab-Americans

Full text (pdf)