Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Cultural competence, Minority college students-Mental health services, Psychotherapist and patient, Counseling in higher education, Cross-cultural counseling, Object relations (Psychoanalysis), College students of color


This qualitative research study explores clinical practice behaviors that influence the perceptions of college students' of color regarding cultural competence in the therapeutic dyad. Interviews were used to obtain data from six college students of color in Western Massachusetts who had a history of engagement in outpatient therapy. This study uses Object Relations Theory as a conceptual framework for understanding social constructions of privilege and identity development and as a learning tool for examining interpersonal behavior as a reflection of one's internalized perceptions. More specifically, for this study, Object Relations Theory provides academic context for understanding how external social phenomena such as racism are internalized and subsequently reenacted through interpersonal behaviors, including those demonstrated during therapeutic interactions between a client and the clinician. The findings of this study highlight the importance of socio- cultural attunement in determining clients' perception of therapists' cultural competence. Because mental health professionals need to have significant knowledge of social and cultural issues, in addition to selfawareness of their own identities, this study aims to identify clinical practice behaviors that contribute to cultural competence, as well as those behaviors that interfere with cultural competence. Of the range of clinical practice behaviors discussed by participants, open discussion of socio-cultural differences was labeled as having primary importance in participants' perceptions of clinicians' cultural competence.




iv, 51 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 37-40)