Questions and Actions Program Chairs and Directors of Clinical, Counseling,
and School Psychology Programs Should Consider When Assessing
the Degree to Which Their Program Complies With Accreditation Domain D:
Cultural and Individual Differences and Diversity

American Psychological Association
Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training in Psychology
The Commission’s Work Group on Education and Training

Ena Vazquez-Nuttall, EdD, Senior Author

Diane Adams, PhD
Allen C. Carter, PhD
Cheryl A. Boyce, PhD
Lynyonne Cotton, MA
Art McDonald, PhD
Wanda Ward, PhD

A publication of

The American Psychological Association
Washington, DC
January 1997


This brochure highlights some questions and actions directors of clinical, counseling, and school psychology programs should consider in relation to cultural and individual differences and diversity when preparing for an accreditation visit. Although these issues are the focal point of psychology’s accreditation Domain D ("cultural and individual differences and diversity"), their consideration should extend across accreditation domains and all aspects of the program’s evaluation. The principle behind this approach is that multiculturalism is a way of thinking and relating that permeates the institutional ethos and its education and training programs. Another basic premise is that multicultural competence is needed by all psychologists, not just ethnic minorities.

As a basic standard of eligibility for accreditation by the American Psychological Association (APA), the institution is expected to provide evidence of "actions that indicate respect for and understanding of cultural differences and individual diversity" (APA, 1995, p. 57). This standard should be reflected in the program’s policies, faculty, students, curriculum, and field placements.

The following lists of actions, observations, and questions are important for program directors to consider when assessing their program’s adherence to standards regarding cultural and linguistic differences. While issues of gender, sexual orientation, disability, and combinations of such statuses are not directly addressed, the procedures outlined can easily be adapted to address these concerns as well. The intent of this document is to serve an educational function and not to define standards. The lists are not required checklist criteria, but rather ideas and suggestions to which a program might aspire.

The actions, observations, and questions program directors might consider are listed under the following categories: Students, Faculty, Curriculum, Practica and Internships, Research, and Institutional Commitment.

  • Hold separate group sessions with ethnically and linguistically diverse students to assess their satisfaction with the different aspects of your program. Separate meetings will allow for more disclosure of the topics that are sensitive and could cause conflict among students.

  • Observe the quality of the interaction among ethnically diverse and European American students during classes, meetings, and other activities throughout the program.

  • Assess tensions between European American students and ethnically and linguistically diverse students, among different groups of ethnically and linguistically diverse students, or between mainstream faculty and minority students. Are students and faculty aware of tensions? If they are aware of tensions, how are the tensions managed?

  • Assess any formal or information processes for handling student grievances.

  • How many ethnic minority students are enrolled in your program relative to the total number of students served?

  • Describe methods you use to recruit and retain ethnic minority students. Does the institution use planned strategies? With what success?

  • How does your department support ethnically diverse students financially? Do you use university funding or fund students only if there are external funds available?

  • What is your institution’s definition of ethnic minority? In some places foreign students are counted as satisfying affirmative action requirements. Is this adequate or appropriate?

  • How does your program support ethnic minority students academically? Are there mentoring programs available for these students? Do these students have support groups? What kind? Do they have ethnic minority faculty to serve as role models? Do the majority faculty work with them? Do ethnic minority students have difficulty finding a chair for their dissertations? What kinds of topics do they select for their dissertations? If they were to select a dissertation focused on ethnic minority issues, would they be able to find a faculty member sufficiently knowledgeable about such issues to direct it?

  • How are ethnically diverse students progressing? Are they graduating?

  • Are ethnically diverse students satisfied with the program? Do they get courses they believe are important? Is your faculty responsive to their needs as minority students? Are multiple diversity groups acknowledged?

  • Hold separate interviews with ethnic minority faculty members regarding satisfaction with their jobs and with the role they play in your program.

  • How many ethnic minority faculty members does your department have?

  • What is the department’s and school’s commitment to diversity?

  • Do you know how to recruit ethnic minority faculty? Do you have any planned strategies? Does your institution provide special funds for recruitment of diverse faculty?

  • How are ethnic minority faculty supported? Are there diverse faculty development programs?

  • At what ranks are ethnic minority faculty found? Are they in tenure track positions?

  • Are ethnic minority faculty members in key administrative positions?

  • Are ethnic minority faculty members as satisfied with different aspects of their jobs and the treatment they are receiving as European American faculty members are?

  • Do reviews of faculty teaching competence for promotion and tenure take into account the inclusion of minority related content in courses?

  • Are development opportunities provided for all faculty to acquire multicultural competence in new teaching areas?

  • Are faculty (not just minorities) encouraged to gain cultural competence?

  • Review syllabi of courses for multicultural content.

  • How many courses does your program offer on multicultural content training? How many are required? Examine courses for multicultural content. To what extent have efforts been made to incorporate multicultural issues into such courses as research methodology, history and systems, learning and cognition, and psychological measurement? These areas tend inappropriately to be considered as exempt from ethnic and cultural considerations.

  • Does the training program incorporate innovative approaches to multicultural practice and services? Does it have a separate specialty concentration in this area?

  • Are the professors who teach multicultural courses competent in the area? Do their curricula vitae show this? Are they full time, tenure track, or adjunct professors? Are they enthusiastic about multicultural issues? Are the program’s professors (other than the ones assigned to teach multicultural issues) knowledgeable about and supportive of multicultural training issues?

  • Do courses focus on teaching specific multicultural competencies? Are experiential components included in the multicultural courses? How often are these courses taught? How many students take these courses—and what percentage are minority students?

  • Is there emphasis in the curriculum on making students aware of their ethnic culture and how it affects their work?

  • Rehearse an interview in which students are asked questions that will assess their knowledge of multicultural issues. Examples of questions are: What are some ethical issues regarding testing clients from multicultural populations? How should test data be interpreted for a non-English speaking client, or how would you test a client who does not speak English? What are the effects of acculturation, immigration, and racial identity development on an individual’s psychological adjustment?

Practica and Internships
  • Do you place students in clinical practicum sites that provide opportunities to work with ethnic minority clients?

  • Who are the supervisors, and are they knowledgeable about multicultural training issues? How are supervisors assisted to develop multicultural competence (e.g., encouraged to take continuing education multicultural offerings, etc.)?

  • Does the internship program include didactic components on multicultural issues? How much time is allotted for this activity? What is the multicultural expertise of the trainers?

  • Do any of your dissertations focus on areas of multicultural training, practice, and mental health issues? Are there appropriate resources for students to conduct this type of research?

  • Do you have faculty who are capable of and interested in directing dissertations in multicultural areas? Are diverse adjunct professors included on dissertation committees when their cultural and linguistic expertise is needed?

  • Does the program actively teach and comply with National Institutes of Health regulations and APA ethical guidelines for the conduct of research with ethnic minorities and special populations? Does the program maintain publications on ethical conduct of research and clinical work with multicultural populations?

Institutional Commitment
  • Review your university mission statement. Does it include a statement of commitment to ethnic diversity? What does it say about the climate of the university relative to ethnic and linguistic diversity?

  • In what ways does the top-level administration of your university support recruitment and retention of ethnic minority students and faculty? Does it provide financial support for these endeavors?

  • Is the university sponsoring any special projects in the minority community?

  • Is there a university-wide program of staff training in multicultural issues?

  • Are there any organizations of minority students or faculty on campus? How are these organizations supported by the university?

Descriptions of Three Programs at Different Levels of Compliance With Domain D

In this section, we present three hypothetical programs (Programs A, B, and C) in order to give program directors an idea of the range of program compliance with Domain D criteria.

Program A

Program A consists of a faculty of nine men, one woman, and no minority members. No organized effort is made to recruit diverse faculty. The woman hired was resented because the search committees had rejected qualified male candidates. The program has 30 doctoral students, 80% of whom are female and two who are minority. No multicultural courses are offered in the program, except a 1-day retreat workshop offered by one of the field internship supervisors. Internship sites do not have culturally diverse staff, nor do they offer in-service training in this area, with the exception of one agency, which has minority clients and at which several of the program students are placed. Several female students have complained about having difficulty finding faculty to direct or participate in their dissertations because their topics focused on women’s issues. Also, the program chair refused to offer a course on doing therapy with women, which female students requested.

The program is nested in a large psychology program with a very low proportion of women and minorities—10 out of 60 faculty members. Hiring diverse faculty is seen as involving a lowering of standards by faculty members. The program director excuses their lack of strength in this area by the noting that the town is predominantly white and working class. The top-level administration of this state university is composed solely of white males. A large metropolitan area, which is the recipient of most of the program’s graduates, is located 30 minutes away.

Program B

Program B consists of four faculty members, two men and two women, one of whom is a minority person. The program director has exerted great effort in hiring a minority faculty member and in mentoring and furthering the faculty’s research interest. Top-level administration is not as strongly committed to supporting ethnically diverse faculty as the program director. This situation creates difficulty for the minority faculty member because she feels isolated and ignored at the college-wide activities and meetings. The graduate student body is 5% minority, even though the state and the city have high proportions of minorities. The program does not have a planned minority recruitment program and provides no funding for ethnic minority students.

The curriculum requires one course in multicultural counseling and assessment and offers several multicultural electives. Multicultural issues are integrated throughout all areas of the academic and experiential curriculum. Most of the program’s European American students report that one of the things that attracted them to the program was the emphasis on multicultural issues. The program has gone to great pains to find internship and practicum sites that offer opportunities to interact with minority clients. The program has been able to identify only a few. When asked questions about multicultural issues at the site visit, students showed great knowledge of the field of multicultural assessment and counseling.

Program C

Program C consists of a total faculty of 41. Of this number, 23 are men, 18 are women, and 6 are ethnic/racial minorities. The program has made strong efforts to increase the ethnic diversity of its faculty. Several of the culturally and linguistically diverse faculty have achieved leadership roles at the local, state, and national levels. In addition to 15% of the core program faculty being ethnic minorities, two of the top administrators in the college are ethnic minorities. One of the program’s five specialty areas is multicultural and community psychology. A number of ethnic minority adjunct faculty members are affiliated with this area, and two part-time ethnic minority faculty members serve as field placement liaisons.

The program’s mission statement is explicit in its commitment to promoting cultural and linguistic diversity. Implementation of the mission statement is evidenced by the programming emphasis within the multicultural and community specialty area and in the program curriculum, which requires all students to take several multicultural courses. Multicultural issues are integrated throughout the curriculum. There is evidence that training has been provided for the faculty on a variety of multicultural issues, and items assessing multicultural knowledge and content are on all evaluation forms for both faculty and students. Additionally, there are ongoing efforts to evaluate the multicultural curriculum and programs offered in terms of their overall contribution to the preparation of psychologists competent to work with populations representing the breadth of human diversity.

The student body is 30% minority and 60% female. The program has an aggressive recruitment program and runs support groups for minority students. A substantial amount of financial aid specifically oriented to minorities is available.

Assessments of the Programs

Program A represents a lack of compliance with Domain D. The program lacks adequate numbers of diverse faculty and students and is not engaged in any serious effort to remedy the situation. The department and top-level administration of the university do not perceive this low representation as a serious problem. The academic and experiential components of the curriculum do not include continuous coverage of multicultural topics or access to minority clients. Thus, overall, this program would need to engage in serious change in order to comply with Domain D.

Program B received a middle level rating of compliance in Domain D. The program has achieved a balanced number of minority faculty in terms of gender and cultural and linguistic background. The college and top-level university administration are not as supportive of hiring diverse faculty as the department is. The proportion of ethnic minority students is low, indicating that greater effort in recruitment needs to be made. The academic components of the curriculum provide students with the knowledge needed to provide appropriate services to culturally and linguistically diverse clients. However, it is difficult for the program to find practicum sites that have minority staff and clients and provide in-service multicultural training.

Program C should be considered a model program. The program has a substantial proportion of ethnic minority faculty at academic, clinical, and administrative levels. The curriculum’s breadth and commitment to multicultural issues at both the academic and the experiential level are among the most outstanding aspects of the program. The student body has a balanced and substantial representation of minority populations. This program should be classified at the high end of compliance.

Suggested Relevant Readings

American Psychological Association (1991). Guidelines for providers of psychological services to ethnic, linguistic, and culturally diverse populations. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

American Psychological Association Committee on Accreditation-Site Visitor Workbook. (1995). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Hills, H. I., & Strozier, A. L. (1993). Multicultural training in APA-approved counseling psychology programs: A survey. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 23, 3-12.

Ridley, C. R., Mendoza, D. W., & Kanitz, B. E. (1994). Multicultural training: Reexamination, operationalization, and integration. The Counseling Psychologist, 22, 227-289.

Stricker, G., Davis-Russell, E., Bourg, E., Duran, E., Hammond, R., McHollan, J., Polite, K., & Vaughn, B. E. (Eds.). (1990). Toward ethnic diversification in psychology, education and training. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Sue, D. W., Arredondo, P., & McDavis, R. J. (1992). Multicultural counseling competencies and standards: A call to the profession. Journal of Counseling and Development, 70, 477-486.

Sue, D. W., Bernier, Y., Duran, A., Feinberg, L., Pedersen, P. B., Smith, E. J., & Vazquez-Nuttall, E. (1982). Position paper: Cross-cultural counseling competencies. The Counseling Psychologist, 10, 45-52.

Sue, D. W., Ivey, A. E., & Pedersen, P. B. (1996). A theory of multicultural counseling and therapy. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.


APA Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention,
and Training in Psychology

Richard M. Suinn, PhD, Chair

Diane Adams, PhD
Martha E. Bernal, PhD
Cheryl A. Boyce, PhD
A. Toy Caldwell-Colbert, PhD
Allen C. Carter, PhD
Victor De La Cancela, PhD
Hector Garza, MPH
Robin J. Hailstorks, PhD
Arthur L. McDonald, PhD
Manuel Miranda, PhD
Hector F. Myers, PhD
Edward G. Singleton, PhD
Elizabeth Todd-Bazemore, PhD
Ena Vazquez-Nuttall, EdD
Reginald L. Jones, PhD