“There remains a gap between the rap- idly changing demographics and professional practitioners to meet the therapeutic needs of these communities therapeutically”. There are, in fact, multiple gaps: in availability, rele- vance, and commitment. The availability gap begins with dispar- ities in training. The supply of professional practitioners will never meet the demand if cultural competence is not integrated into training curricula. The American Psychological Association’s Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention, and Training (CEMRRAT) in Psychology reported more than 10 years ago that fewer than 50% of fully accredited clinical, counseling, and school psychology training programs have multicultural course requirements. The availability gap can be tightened at the licensing or relicensing level, thereby making multicultural competence as necessary as minimum standards. A few states (e.g., Massachu- setts, New Mexico, and Ohio) require multicultural education and training for licensing or relicensing, but more need to do so. CEMRRAT has as a goal to “introduce and/or increase the enforceability of accreditation and licensing standards focused on services to/research with multicultural populations”.
Federally qualified health centers— community-based organizations that provide comprehensive mental health, substance abuse, and other services to medically underserved areas/populations—offer some hope in closing this gap. As we consider the role of psychology in the current health care reform agenda, we need to be aware that psychologists can play a key role on community health teams. Psychologists can take advantage of placement opportunities in these facilities, where they will receive valuable training in mul- ticulturalism in working with underserved urban (often ethnic minorities) and rural communities.