Colonialism and Multicultural Counseling Competence Research: A Liberatory Analysis

Document Type

Contribution to Book



Format of Original

14 p.

Publication Date




Source Publication

Decolonizing “Multicultural” Counseling through Social Justice

Source ISSN



The effort to advance the multicultural counseling movement has been hard-fought over the past few decades. In recent years, important work has been done to further advance the multicultural counseling movement through the paradigm of social justice. The social justice paradigm calls into question the colonial structure in which notions of counseling competence in general, and multicultural counseling competence in particular, have been defined and investigated. In this chapter, we attempt to shine a critical light on these colonial foundations as they pertain to researching the multicultural counseling competencies.

The purpose of this chapter is threefold. First, we describe the colonial foundations of the counseling profession in general, and of the multicultural counseling competency paradigm specifically. Second, using liberation psychology (Martín-Baró 1994) as a lens, we detail the implications these colonial foundations have for research on multicultural counseling competencies. Third, we provide suggestions for decolonizing the process of research on multicultural counseling competencies. Ultimately, we aim to provide a map for rethinking multicultural counseling competencies and how the counseling profession might define and investigate such competencies in the future.

Based on our analysis, we provide recommendations for counselors, counselor educators, and researchers. Specifically, our suggestions are aimed at rethinking our roles as professionals, and engaging marginalized and oppressed clients in the process of defining and researching multicultural counseling competence—a term that may not stand up to scrutiny when analyzed from a liberatory perspective in collaboration with oppressed clients and populations.


"Colonialism and Multicultural Counseling Competence Research: A Liberatory Analysis," in Decolonizing “Multicultural” Counseling through Social Justice. Eds. Rachael D. Goodman, and Paul C. Gorski. New York: Springer, 2015: 41-54. DOI.