A qualitative exploration of self-perceived multicultural and social justice competence amongst a sample of psychologists.
Tsepiso, Thusi Tumelo.
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Background: The population of South Africa is characterised by cultural diversity and shares a rich socio-political history. Working in such a context can prove to be a very complex experience for psychologists. Due to its political history of apartheid, the country continues to have racial tensions and socioeconomic inequality. Though the new democratic South Africa guarantees the right to equality and protection from all forms of discrimination, it still presents itself with many forms of social injustice. Thus, there is a need for psychologists whom work in such a context to be equipped with the skills to address all issues of diversity. The study was done to explore whether psychologists feel adequately equipped to deal with multicultural issues that may surface during their sessions. Furthermore, the study aimed to explore whether psychologists feel equipped to bring about social justice for clients experiencing different levels of oppression. Methods: A sample of four psychologists participated in the study. Each participant was interviewed twice, with the second interview used as a follow up from the previous one in order get more in-depth information from the participants. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected. Findings: Participants revealed that they needed more training and experience to enhance their multicultural counselling competence. Participants reflected on their struggles of working with clients experiencing various issues of oppression such as those related to poverty, discrimination and violence. A significant finding was that the majority of the participants expressed that they felt inadequately prepared by their training program to address clients’ issues of oppression/social injustice. Conclusions: There is a need for psychology training to seriously engage in critical understandings of multicultural and social justice counselling. In order for the field of psychology to become a powerful entity within the South African context, it needs to acknowledge the impact of historical, political and social influences on clients’ lives.