The results of a feminist research endeavour that explored multicultural (MC) counselling and social justice (SJ) training experiences from the standpoint of eight culturally non-dominant doctoral students are presented. Participants represented students within the five counselling psychology programs accredited by the Canadian Psychological Association. Specifically, the research aimed to address the following research question: How do counselling psychology doctoral students who self-identify with non-dominant cultural identities perceive their experiences of MC and SJ training? This research adopted a feminist standpoint theory epistemology to guide an interpretative phenomenological analysis to reflect the culturally rich, complex, and situated experiences of participants, while concurrently emphasizing the role that systems of privilege and oppression play in influencing these experiences. Results point to seven superordinate themes, including: (a) MC and SJ are personal and rooted in identity; (b) Instructors—their role and impact; (c) Classmates—a mixed bag; (d) Perceptions of MC and SJ courses; (e) Perceptions of clinical supervision; (f) Systemic engagement with MC and SJ principles; and (g) The emotional and psychological burden of MC and SJ training. Findings are discussed considering sociocultural practices in North America, and MC and SJ training implications are explored.


counseling psychology, multiculturalism, social justice, training, non-dominant identities, feminist standpoint theory, phenomenological interpretative analysis

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Julie A. Cohen and Dr. Kaori Wada are currently affiliated with the University of Calgary, Educational Studies in Counselling Psychology, Werklund School of Education; 2500 University Dr. NW, Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada. For Dr. Cohen, please direct correspondence to julieanne.cohen@ucalgary.ca. For Dr. Wada, please direct correspondence to kaori.wada@ucalgary.ca.

Dr. Anusha Kassan is currently affiliated with the University of British Columbia, Educational and Counselling Psychology, and Special Education; Vancouver Campus, 2125 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z4. Please direct correspondence to anusha.kassan@ubc.ca.

Note: This manuscript is one of three manuscripts that make up Julie A. Cohen’s PhD thesis document that was written under the supervision of Dr. Anusha Kassan. At the time that this article was created, all three authors were affiliated with the University of Calgary.

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