The Multicultural Worldview The Future Of Multicultural Psychotherapy

We believe that the person-environment approach to multicultural psychotherapy marks a turning point in the evolution of multicultural psychotherapy models. It represents the emergence of a comprehensive, culture-centered world-view that is the future of multicultural psychotherapy. This worldview acknowledges the central role of culture in individuals and communities, but is not limited by culture-specific or universal frames of reference. As Pedersen and Ivey (1993) comment,

Culture is within the person, develops as a result of accumulated learning from a complexity of sources, depends on interaction with others to define itself, changes to accommodate the experiences in a changing world, provides a basis for predicting future behavior of self and others, and becomes the central control point for any and all decisions, (p. 2)

Ramirez (1998, 1999) similarly posits that culture in this sense refers to the inclusion and synthesis of diverse perspectives, values, and lifestyles. He further suggests that the new worldview is a blending of different cultures and philosophies that are based on the social, political, and historical forces that have helped shape the Americas.

According to Ramirez (1998, 1999), two important historical forces have contributed to the development of this new worldview—Jose Vasconcellos's (1925, 1927) la raza cosmica (the cosmic race) and Crevecoeur's (1904) inclusive melting pot concept of the Americas. Ivey (1995) also has emphasized the important contributions of two modern oppositionists to colonial oppression— Paolo Friere (1972), a Brazilian educator, and Franz Fanon (1963), an African Martinequian psychiatrist—in the shaping of this new multicultural worldview.

The concept of la raza cosmica is the belief that the utmost development of humanity could be achieved only through the amalgamation of different races and cultural perspectives (Vasconcellos, 1925,1927). Vasconcellos extolled the advantages of diversity reflected in the development of the mestizo race (i.e., the intermarriage of Europeans and native American Indians) and observed that in the mestizo race lies the greatest hope for the future of the Americas and the world. The development of the cosmic race, of which the mestizo race was the first developmental stage, would emerge to fulfill what he referred to as the divine mission of the American continent. This cosmic race would represent the product of the synthesis of, "the black, the brown, the yellow, and the white" (1925, pp. 52—53). Vasconcellos predicted that each member of the new race would be a "whole human."

The French writer Crevecoeur (1904) posited the early Americas' social philosophy to be the inclusive melting pot. Crevecoeur conceived of the evolving United States society not as a slightly modified Europe, but as a totally new cultural and biological blend that rejected the class-bound and colonialist institutions brought by the British colonists. In this new world, the genetic strains and folkways of Europe mixed indiscriminately in the political pot of the emerging nation and were fused by the fires of American influence and interaction into a distinctly new American personality. For example, the early European settlers were influenced by the democratic practices they observed in the Native Indian peoples they encountered on the East Coast. They also were influenced by the need to cooperate and negotiate with the indigenous peoples. From these experiences, institutions were developed that were uniquely American and represented more acceptance of cultural and individual differences than the European institutions. It is unfortunate, however, that over time this originally culturally inclusive concept became synonymous with the assimilation, exclusion, and oppression of indigenous and later immigrant peoples (Ramirez, 1998).

Among modern-day oppositionists to colonial oppression, Paolo Friere (1972) stands out for his work with the poor and uneducated peoples of Brazil. Friere's lifelong commitment to education as a means to transform society was a step toward restoring the humanitarian balance that was lost when the Americas became exclusionary and oppressive toward the indigenous people. Friere specifically advocated for the development of conscientizacdo, or critical consciousness, as the starting point for liberating people from the oppression of their environments. Conscientizacdo refers to "learning to perceive social, political, and economic contradictions, and to take action against the oppressive elements of reality" (p. 19). Toward this end, he emphasized the need for people to become educated and thereby more aware of themselves in their social contexts. Education, according to Friere, was a co-intentional process in which two or more people work together in an egalitarian fashion toward finding new meaning and new ways of being (Ivey, 1995). By achieving conscientizacdo, people become empowered and learn to co-construct a new reality that is free of the bonds of oppression.

Franz Fanon (1963, 1967), similar to Friere, emphasized the importance of sociocultural realities and the influence of racism and oppression in the personality development of colonized people. He saw racism as a form of patriarchal domination "in which oppressors actually inscribe a mentality of subordination in the oppressed" (Ivey, 1995). Fanon therefore emphasized the need for people to fight oppression by finding meaning in their experiences as racial minorities. He specifically encouraged people to name and describe their conditions as a means to liberate themselves from the mentality of the oppressed. Fanon furthermore sought to explain all personality dynamics in terms of sociohistorical and cultural realities. For example, he saw neurosis as the expression of a given culture: "Even neurosis, every abnormal manifestation ... is the product of the cultural situation" (Fanon, 1967, p. 152).

Critical contributions to the multicultural worldview also came from the pioneers in the fields of community psychology (e.g., Rappaport, 1977), ethno-psychology (e.g., Sanchez, 1932), and feminist psychology (e.g., Horney, 1937). These psychologists disclaimed the emphasis on universals in psychology, instead looking to the importance both of sociocultural environments and the effects of minority status and oppression on personality development and functioning. Rappaport, for example, emphasized respect for human diversity and the right to be different, and the belief that human problems are those of person-environment fit rather than of incompetent, inferior people or psychological and cultural environments. Sanchez was the first psychologist to question the use of intelligence tests to assert racial superiority of White children over Mexican and African American children. He showed that environmental and linguistic factors were related significantly to performance on intelligence tests. Horney similarly challenged the sexist bias in society and in psychology and pointed out that Freud's theory ignored important cultural realities: the powerless position of most women in society and the central role of culture in personality dynamics.

Taken altogether, the above influences helped shape a new multicultural worldview that is based on the respect for cultural and individual differences and the inclusion and synthesis of all cultures. The multicultural worldview also emphasizes personal empowerment and the development of institutions in society that are free of inequality and oppression. The following principles or tenets outline the multicultural worldview (Ramirez, 1998) and are consistent with the metatheoretical propositions for multicultural counseling theories set forth by Sue et al. (1996):

• There are no inferior peoples, cultures, or groups in terms of gender, ethnicity, race, economics, religion, disabilities, region, sexual orientation, or language.

• Problems of adjustment are not the result of inferior peoples or groups, but rather of a mismatch between people, or between people and their environment.

• Every individual, group, or culture has positive contributions to make to personality development and to a healthy adjustment to life.

• People who are willing to learn from others and from groups and cultures different from their own acquire multicultural coping techniques, philosophies, and perspectives that are the basis of multicultural personality development and multicultural/multiracial identity.

• The synthesis and amalgamation of personality assets acquired from different peoples, groups, and cultures occur when people with multicultural potential work towards the goals of understanding and cooperation in the context of a pluralistic society.

• Synthesis and amalgamation from diverse origins contribute to the development of a multicultural/multiracial personality functioning, and to the ultimate in psychological adjustment in a pluralistic society.

The multicultural worldview, as defined above, can serve as the foundation to enhance the quality of life for culturally different people. At the psychotherapeutic level, the multicultural worldview moves beyond the traditional goal of helping people as individuals toward helping people become more active citizens and leaders in a pluralistic society. To achieve this goal, it acknowledges culture-specific and universal aspects of counseling and development and incorporates the key elements of the four approaches to multicultural psychotherapy. Perhaps most importantly, multicultural therapists also are challenged to define themselves beyond their traditional roles as psychotherapist and counselor (Atkinson et al., 1993) and to see themselves as social engineers in an increasingly multicultural society (Ramirez, 1999).

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