Increasing Cultural Understanding and Diversity in Applied Behavior Analysis

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In recent years, the demands for behavior analysis to serve consumers with diverse cultural backgrounds have significantly increased. The field is in great need of culturally competent behavior analysts who can integrate appropriate cultural considerations to their programs. The field of behavior analysis can address this growing need by fostering cultural competency in professional training through increasing relevant training opportunities and the development of culture- and diversity-relevant educational curricula and materials, and by supporting efforts to increase the number of ethnically and racially diverse behavior-analytic workforces in academic and professional settings. Together, we can promote cultural awareness and cultural competencies in professional behavior-analytic training. However, there are challenges for fostering culturally diverse professionals, especially during the academic training phase, which include language barriers, negative perceptions about cultures that are different from one’s own, microaggressions in work and academic settings, lack of mentoring opportunities, adverse campus climates, and tokenism. Some potential ways to address such challenges include the development of culture- and diversity-related curricula, mentoring opportunities, and greater support for minority and culturally diverse students and faculty. The purpose of this commentary was to increase awareness about the importance of cultural understanding and competency, as well as a diverse workforce in the field of behavior analysis, a necessary step to better serve those consumers from multicultural backgrounds.

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