Diversity Training at USDCC

As a Mental and Behavioral Health team, we are deeply committed to developing our own multicultural competencies and those of our interns. We understand that inclusion, social justice, and multicultural competency requires an ongoing commitment. Consistent with The University of San Diego’s Core Values this commitment is pursued in an atmosphere of trust, safety, and respect. The USD Counseling Center is fully committed to providing services that affirm the dignity, worth, and value of all individuals. An understanding of the impact of culture is integrated into every aspect of the work we do indirect services, training, scholarly activity, and research. We define culture and diversity broadly, allowing our definition to encompass race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual identity, socioeconomic status, nationality, acculturation, religious and spiritual beliefs, ability status, size, and appearance. Often, mental health concerns are impacted by systemic oppression and marginalization, such as racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, and heterosexism. Our Mental and Behavioral Health team, including our trainees, are encouraged to consider these factors in the conceptualization and treatment of our students in a culturally sensitive manner. We ascribe to APA’s statement “Preparing Professional Psychologists to Serve a Diverse Public: A Core Requirement in Doctoral Education and Training,” which can be found at https://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/diversity-preparation. We train interns to be well-rounded professional psychologists with the competencies to serve clients representing different forms of diversity. As such, we expect that both interns and staff will be open to working with clients with a range of diverse identities and lived experiences and will work in supervision or consultation to confront and work through areas of bias and blind spots. We take as given that we have all been socialized with some areas of bias and blind spots, so emphasize cultural humility. We aim to foster a supportive and non-shaming environment that supports introspection and working through these issues in the service of providing a safer and more effective clinical experience for a broad array of clients. In providing this training, we commit ourselves to create a supportive training environment that allows for self-exploration and the development of cultural sensitivity.

Our training in diversity is structured very intentionally to focus on both cultural competence and cultural humility. We consider it very important to train interns to think in a culturally competent way and engage in, rather than just learn, certain facts about certain groups. Though some supervisors are formally responsible for aspects of diversity-related training, we expect all clinicians to continually enhance their levels of cultural competence and come with their work with cultural humility. The Mental and Behavioral Health team is committed to diversity, antiracism, the exploration of implicit biases, continuing education, and personal growth. We are committed to providing care and supervision that focuses on health equity. All members of the Mental and Behavioral health team are expected to attend to diversity factors and collaborate with one another in training interns in this realm, to assure clear feedback and thoughtful training experience. While we consider supervisors as having important responsibilities in the area of diversity, we also believe interns should come to their work with cultural humility and hold themselves accountable in this competency area and to challenge themselves and one another as needed to ensure a meaningful learning experience.

One way of conceptualizing comprehensive training in diversity issues is by addressing knowledge, awareness, and skills. The structured elements of our training are listed below.

Knowledge: refers to obtaining information about various worldview orientations, histories of oppression endured by marginalized populations, and culture-specific values that influence the subjective and collaborative experience of marginalized populations. Various didactic seminars are presented throughout the year. Though some of these topics may vary by intern group, many are routinely offered. Given that interns come to us with some coursework in the diversity realm, our knowledge-based seminars generally focus on topics that are less commonly or less thoroughly addressed in graduate school based on our experience training interns. In addition, various supervisors may provide readings or suggest experiential methods to improve learning.

Skills: refers to skill development and implementation that allows one to draw from an existing fund of cultural knowledge to design mental health interventions that are relevant to marginalized populations. This dimension also focuses on clinical application by identifying how to be culturally sensitive with individual clients, explore issues of difference in the room, and open up discussions around cultural and other relevant areas of diversity. These are addressed in the Diversity Consultation group for interns, as well as in all other supervisory experiences.

Awareness: refers to being cognizant of one’s attitudes, beliefs, and values regarding intersecting identities such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religious and spiritual beliefs, gender, sexuality, physical and mental abilities, size, and appearance, and socioeconomic status. Additionally, it is crucial to focus on an awareness of the sociopolitical relevance of cultural group membership in terms of cultural privilege, systemic racism, discrimination, and oppression. Self-awareness and cultural humility are fostered in the Diversity Consultation experience, in various supervision experiences, and several experientially-based workshops, in which interns will be expected to reflect upon their own backgrounds and identities to further build self-awareness and cultural sensitivity.

Topics relevant to diversity are regular features of the didactic training and intern seminars, which may include experiential exercises in addition to the instructive format. In addition, cultural factors are discussed in individual and group supervision formats, and assessment consultation. Outreach presentations and consultations are frequently provided to the campus community on diversity, social justice, and health equity. All interns are expected to consider diversity, social justice, and health equity in their outreach and health promotion efforts. If an intern would like to pursue specific outreach opportunities related to diversity and social justice, they should speak with their supervisor or the training director.

Our university offers opportunities to collaborate with diverse individuals with 38 percent of the student body identifying as students of color. More detailed and comprehensive information regarding diversity at USD is located at https://www.sandiego.edu/facts/statistics.php. Students seen at the Counseling Center tend to mirror the student body well, except that as in many settings, male-identified students tend to underutilize services. While in most cases interns naturally experience a reasonably diverse caseload without interventions, supervisors assist the interns in monitoring the diversity of their caseload, and case assignments are intentionally made when needed to balance caseloads.

External experiences with the diverse clientele: To supplement the diversity of our student population, previous interns have participated in training experiences with non-USD students (Barrio Logan College Institute, San Diego Center for Children), which are off-site. While we cannot guarantee these experiences on a yearly basis due to the fluctuations in those programs’ staffing and needs, we support interns’ involvement and will continue to seek out diverse experiences to enhance the training of interns.