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Achieving cultural competency in mental health training and practice

Miu Ha Kwong (Based at The University of Hong Kong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China)

The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice

ISSN: 1755-6228

Article publication date: 17 June 2011




The population of the USA consists of a culturally diverse mix of individuals, many of them recent immigrants, from a wide range of ethnic and racial groups. Given an increasing multicultural and multilingual population, an urgent need for cross‐cultural community and health services, and for culturally competent practitioners, has emerged in the profession of mental health. The reality of that diversity raises two crucial implications: the profession needs more culturally competent practitioners to work with multicultural service‐users; and the clinical assessment and treatment of the population has become more challenging and complex. This paper seeks to explore vital cultural components in training mental health practitioners to work with multiethnic groups.


A qualitative and purposive methodology with structured interview questions was employed to gather data for analysis. The process of data analysis included line‐by‐line transcription of each interview and then the data were coded and categorized. Professors, experienced clinicians, and researchers in the multicultural field were interviewed for data collection.


The findings were organized into four essential components in achieving cultural competency in mental health training. Attitudinal components: cultural appreciation, learning curiosity, assumption free, and cognitive flexibility; emotional components: emotional knowledge, reflective ability, worldview knowledge, and cultural alertness; intellectual components: cultural knowledge, single culture, and clinical knowledge; and integrative practice components: cultural engagement, integrative assessment, and integrative intervention process.


The findings contribute to an expanded understanding and integration of major cultural elements in mental health training and practice.



Ha Kwong, M. (2011), "Achieving cultural competency in mental health training and practice", The Journal of Mental Health Training, Education and Practice, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 76-84.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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