Ethics and Multiculturalism

It is also meaningful to note that the American Psychological Association ethics code states that “psychologists may consider other materials and guidelines that have been adopted or endorsed by scientific and professional psychological organiza- tions”. Not only should psychologists be informed by the American Psychological Association’s Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists, which should be required reading for all psychologists, but also by our policy and position on Evidence Based Practice in Psychology. American Psychological Association’s definition of evidence-based practice is the integration of the best available research with clinical expertise in the context of patient character- istics, culture, and preferences. Our policy recognizes that “psy- chological services are most effective when responsive to the patient’s specific problems, strengths, personality, socio-cultural context, and preferences”. We are assured on many fronts by many of our own documents that cultures must be considered.

Where the Rubber Hits the Road is quite comprehensive in its purview. Though outside the parameters for discussion, the article does stimulate consideration of other forms of cross-cultural dynamics and their ethical implications. Cross-cultural intersections between minority psychotherapists and nonminority clients are fewer, but they add an important dimension to the cross-cultural dialogue. Where are the ethical fault lines when a White client at a group practice asks not to work with a Latino, Asian, or Black psychotherapist? When the politics of gender are factored in, the equation becomes much more com- plex. Issues of power reversals and privilege may arise. Consider the dimensions of contact when a middle-aged White man presents for treatment with a mid-30s Black female psychologist. What aspects of the patient’s culture need to be addressed?

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Gallardo eloquently points out that there are no standards or mandates that will resolve every ethical or multicultural dilemma. I have always held to the guiding principle once heard in a seminar: Be willing to expose but not to impose one’s values.