Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Psychology (MA)

Degree Level



Psychological Science


Ana J. Bridges

Committee Member

Lindsay Ham

Second Committee Member

Scott Eidelman


Cultural Competence, Health Disparities, Psychotherapy


Studies suggest that health disparities occur when people from marginalized communities receive care that is inadequate based on their cultural needs (USDHHS, 2011). Multicultural competence (MCC) models have been proposed to provide a framework of the competencies that therapists should develop to work with multicultural populations (Sue et al., 1992). Researchers have questioned the validity of measures, which are mostly based on therapist self-report (Cartwright, 2008). The multicultural case conceptualization ability task has been used in previous studies as a measure of demonstrated cultural competence using a vignette to assess case conceptualization abilities (Ladany et al., 1997). However, it has not been determined if higher scores on the task indicate multicultural competence, or if it is a measure of good case conceptualization skills in general. The purpose of the current study was to examine the construct and criterion validity of a measure of demonstrated multicultural competence. I hypothesized that (1a) demonstrated multicultural competence would be positively correlated with self-reported competence (evidence of construct validity), (1b) demonstrated multicultural competence scores would be higher for the vignette depicting the client with multiple marginalized identities (undocumented Salvadoran woman) than the vignette depicting a White woman (evidence of construct validity), and (2) demonstrated and perceived multicultural competence would be predicted by greater hours of multicultural training, more clinical experiences with diverse clients, if participants were professionals rather than students, if therapists identified as a person of color, and lower colorblind racial attitudes (evidence of criterion validity). A sample of 80 psychologists were recruited to participate in a between-subject study. Participants were randomly assigned to read one of two vignettes portraying a woman referred to a therapist by her physician. One of the vignettes portrayed a minoritized client (undocumented Salvadoran woman) while the other depicted a White woman. Participants were asked to imagine that this person was seeking services and were asked to write a description of the client’s problems, the origins of those problems, and to generate a potential treatment plan. Participants answered self-report questionnaires, including demographic information, a multicultural competence scale, a colorblind racial attitudes scale, questions about their training and experience with diverse clients, and a social desirability scale. Hypothesis 1a was not supported, as no association was found between the measures of self-reported multicultural competence and demonstrated tasks of multicultural competence. This study did not demonstrate construct validity of the MCCA. Hypothesis 1b was also not supported, as there were no significant differences between scores for the two vignette conditions and failed to establish construct validity of the MCCA. Results of hypothesis 2 was partially supported. The MCCA was not predicted by therapist variables, but other measures of multicultural competence were predicted by some of the therapist variables. This study suggests the importance of several forms of learning multicultural competence, through courses, experience with diverse clients, or other methods of engaging with people from other cultures. It also suggests the value in measurement of multicultural competence, and the utility of both self-reported measures and demonstrated tasks.