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: Diversity and Social Justice Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy

Deborah J. Rubel and Manivong J. Ratts

The changing demographic composition of the U.S. population and an increased commitment to providing multicultural and advocacy-competent counseling to diverse populations have brought issues of diversity and social justice to the forefront of discussion among counselors (Sue & Sue, 2008). Although there is widespread acceptance within the helping professions that counselors must provide competent services to diverse clients, traditional theories of counseling have been criticized for their limitations for this purpose (D'Andrea, 2000).

To answer the limitations of traditional counseling theories and practices, a variety of models, theories, and concepts have been created that address the needs of diverse clients during the counseling process. However, these theories are not meant to replace existing theories but to add to the ways in which counselors understand themselves and diverse clients, broaden their view of the counseling process, add to their repertoire of techniques and strategies, and most important, assist counselors in seeing themselves, their clients, and the practice of counseling within a broad cultural context (Sue & Sue, 2008). This chapter provides a context for diversity and social justice issues in counseling by (a) clarifying key concepts and reviewing the history of diversity and social justice issues in counseling; (b) increasing understanding of how diversity and social justice issues influence individual and group functioning; (c) increasing awareness of how diversity and social justice may influence the counseling process; (d) presenting several perspectives on diversity and social justice-oriented interventions; and (e) suggesting ways to develop self-awareness, knowledge of diverse populations, and counseling skills relevant to diversity and social justice.

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