The Latino population is the fastest-growing demographic in the United States, but are counselors properly prepared and culturally competent to work effectively with this population, which is more than 50 million strong? Patricia Arredondo, campus president of the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and a past president of the American Counseling Association, co-wrote the recently released book, Culturally Responsive Counseling With Latinas/os, with Maritza Gallardo-Cooper, Edward A. Delgado-Romero and Angela L. Zapata. The resource, which is published by ACA, aims to provide culturally centered assessments and intervention strategies for counseling Latino individuals and families. Arredondo, a Mexican American, believes much of what the public thinks about Latino culture is based on conjecture and the media. She hopes the book will provide a comprehensive guide to effectively counseling Latino clients, while also offering a glimpse into the lifestyle and culture of this population.
What inspired you to write Culturally Responsive Counseling With Latinas/os?
There has been evidence for the last 20 years that Latinas/os are a large demographic [that will impact the] future of the U.S. According to the 1990, 2000 and 2010 censuses, the percentage increase of Latinos in the U.S. has grown, thereby affecting the future of the U.S. on many levels— economic, education and employment. It is also well known that this population is younger than the general U.S. population. This suggests that counselor education, research and practice will have to be better prepared to engage competently and ethically with Latina/o students across the life span and in different contexts. I am Mexican American and have taken a particular interest in being a student of Latino culture, history and traditions. These lenses have informed my approach to counselor education, postgrad education, identifying areas in need of research and, of course, counseling practices with Latinas/os.
How did you become involved with the topic?
My focus on multicultural competencies was initially my intention to be responsive to underserved populations. Back in the 1980s, stereotypes seemed to be the information that counselors used. Over time, there has been more research—clinical, and applied in other settings— to new models for counseling that are more Latina/o specific.
What are some of the main issues or topics in the counseling profession that relate to this book?
Culture-specific competencies, ethical practice, different counseling models that respect cultural traditions, language, religious beliefs, community and family focus, and the future of counseling.
How do you believe this population is addressed within the counseling/mental health world?
I think there is greater realization that counselors NEED specific preparation. More preparation is required for all counselors, particularly those in the field already.
What about the United States in general?
The U.S. citizenry has very limited perspectives about Latinas/os. Most of what the general population knows is based on sensational, negative news stories. Every Latino is portrayed as an unauthorized individual. There is so much more to the historic and current contributions of Latinas/os.
Who do you feel is the best audience for the book?
Beyond helping professionals, including nurses and physicians, I would say that the first seven chapters in particular are relevant to all employers and people in general: “Who Are Latinos?” “Latino Worldviews and Cultural Values,” “Acculturation and Enculturation Processes,” “The Complexity of Latina/o Multidimensional Identity,” “Education,” “Employment, Economics, and the Psychology of Working,” and “Situational Stressors and Their Effects.”
What surprised you most as you were researching and writing Culturally Responsive Counseling With Latinas/os?
There is more and more updated data thanks to the Pew Hispanic Center, and many more scholars involved in Latino-centered research.
Why should counselors read this book?
Counselors will be touched by Latinos and Latino families in their daily life and in work settings. Counselors need to be culturally informed about the assets, strengths and challenges faced by Latinas/os.
What do you hope counselors take away from the book?
That their professional development will be enriched and that they will have more confidence to work with Latinas/os in their given work setting.
Heather Rudow is a staff writer for Counseling Today. Contact her at CT@counseling.org.