Training Culturally Competent Psychologists: A Systematic Review of the Training Outcome Literature

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Abstract

The purpose of this systematic review of the literature was to further understand the goals of cultural competency trainings and the procedures used to train psychologists, and to synthesize evaluations of the outcomes of these trainings. Seventeen training outcome studies were identified. Results from revealed a wide variety of training procedures including lecture, discussion, utilization of case scenarios, cultural immersion, role-play, contact with diverse individuals, self-reflection of interactions with clients, journaling, and service learning. Across studies, topics covered within training curricula included racism/discrimination, worldviews, cultural identity, general concepts about culture, biases, and information about the clinical/client interaction as it relates to cultural competency or diversity. Cultural competency training increased knowledge, whereas findings for changes in attitudes, awareness, and skills were mixed. Evidence-based training guidelines and practices are needed. Given the complexities associated with culture and the ample number of variables that can be classified as cultural (i.e., immigration status, language, acculturation), developing evidence-based training guidelines is a challenging task that may require a reconsideration of how cultural competency training is approached. Because there is not sufficient information to suggest that specific curricular methods or content produce reliable outcomes, the field should reconsider the foundation of cultural competency training using psychological science as a basis.

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