Impact of cross-cultural training on black and white mental health professionals

Harriet P. Lefley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


In a 3-year period, 174 mental health professionals received intensive 8-day cross-cultural/interracial communication workshops involving didactic, transactional, experiential, and cultural immersion techniques. Comprehensive evaluation strategies investigated changes in social distance, attitudes, and values comprehension, as well as improvement in therapeutic performance. Comparison of 68 white and 54 black clinical practitioners indicated significant differences in impact, with the former more oriented toward cognitive and attitudinal change, and the latter toward insight into personal identity and role conflict. Among white trainees, increased values comprehension, increased agreement with preferential treatment for minorities, and decreased social distance to tri-ethnic (black, Hispanic, white) stimulus figures at three socioeconomic status (SES) levels, were associated with improved therapeutic skills with a poor black client. Among black trainees, self-distancing responses to social, attitudinal, and values items which implied both acknowledgment and rejection of "black professional" identity, were associated with highly significant improvement in therapeutic performance with a poor black client. In addition to demonstrated efficacy in building knowledge and skill, cross-cultural training appears to be a consciousness-raising process for minority professionals conflicted about culture-abandonment and irrelevancies in clinical training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-318
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Intercultural Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1985

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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