by Kathy M. Evans and Aubrey L. Sejuit
Coursework and trainings in cultural competencies are often approached as an afterthought, a perspective used to enhance and improve existing practice. Counseling programs often include a course in multiculturalism and diversity focused on teaching theories of cultural and identity development, but this has a drawback: Students become responsible for integrating the course content into their intended area of practice. For career professionals, that can be a huge task—integrating counseling skills, career development theory, practical knowledge of vocations and employment law, cultural competencies, and social justice initiatives. Kathy Evans and Aubrey Sejuit’s second edition of Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling is a valuable tool in this process; it seamlessly weaves together these categories to provide a thorough guide for the culturally competent career counselor.
The text is structured similarly to a typical multicultural counseling course. Chapters 1 through 4 discuss the importance of culturally competent career counseling, highlighting issues including the history of discrimination against marginalized groups in the workplace. Readers are introduced to concepts, such as worldview, locus of control and responsibility, and bias, and encouraged to explore their own biases and values. Each concept is framed from the perspective of career development, with examples and reflective activities emphasizing stereotypes or microaggressions related specifically to work- and workplace-related issues.
Chapters 5 through 7 delve into the application of cultural competencies in widely used career development theories and assessments. Evans and Sejuit examine classical career development theories (Parsons, Super, Holland) as well as newer theories to provide career professionals with guidance on how to reconcile those theories’ cultural shortcomings with ethical practice. Dimensions that are often measured in career assessments—interest, personality, and cognitive ability—are discussed, including the monochromatic landscape in which these assessments were developed. Evans and Sejuit then take the topic one step further, providing a framework for career professionals to administer and interpret assessments in a culturally informed manner.
Chapters 8 and 9 explore specific applications of cultural competencies, including in work with children and adolescents and social justice and advocacy. This is the text’s strongest section. Evans and Sejuit provide a multitude of evidence demonstrating how career information received in childhood and adolescence shapes adult career decisions, disproportionately affecting minority and low–socioeconomic status communities. Evans and Sejuit demonstrate that by simply engaging children and adolescents in an ethical and informed manner, practitioners are affecting outcomes. This is especially crucial information, as children and adolescents are often overlooked in the field of career counseling and development.
My only complaint is that Evans and Sejuit do not dive into more material in working with specific populations. The text is energizing and leaves the reader wanting to know more. However, this simplicity is also the text’s strength. At the core, the text is not only about working with and advocating for marginalized populations, but also about learning to effectively work with clients who differ from yourself as a practitioner. Activities and reflections are incorporated into each chapter of the text to provide a starting point for this process.
Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling contains introductory information that will serve any professional looking to begin their journey toward cultural competency in career counseling. However, it is also an excellent tool for experienced practitioners who want to develop their knowledge of incorporating cultural competencies and social justice in their work. Again, Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling takes practitioners beyond the material covered in social justice and multicultural and diversity trainings and provides a comprehensive guide for professionals of all levels.
Evans, K. M. & Sejuit, A. L. (2021). Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling (2nd ed.). National Career Development Association.
Reviewed by: Erin Connelly, MS, EdS, University of North Georgia
The Professional Counselor