This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Cultural Competence in Action: Self-Perceptions of Counselor Educators in Higher Education Leadership Careers




Brown, Ashley B.

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Special Education, Rehabilitation, Counseling

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



Cultural competence is regarded as the fourth force in the counseling profession (Sue, Sue, Neville, & Smith, 2019). Cultural competence and practice are topics that have been extensively researched in recent years. Those who identify as counselor educators commit themselves to the same professional standards as professional counselors upheld by the American Counseling Association (ACA) to have an awareness, knowledge, and skills sets, especially when working with diverse populations. Counselor educators are charged with not merely identifying as culturally competent, but to apply these skills in practice. Thus, making cultural competence more than a part of the professional identity alone but a part of professional practice. Culturally competent practices are behaviors that professional counselors should exhibit according to the American Counseling Association (ACA) Code of Ethics and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) (ACA, 2014; CACREP, 2016). It is imperative to understand what culturally competent practices may consist of and how one knows they are truly competent. Individuals who apply cultural competence beyond counselor education in leadership and administrative capacities have skill sets that could promote positive change for students, personnel, and academic programs (Okech & Rubel, 2018). Counselor educators in human service-related, complimentary, and alternative careers are equipped with skill sets that can translate culturally competent practice. Consequently, counselor educators have various opportunities to engage in culturally competent practice in leadership and administrative positions throughout their careers (Okech & Rubel, 2018). This study examined the self-perceptions of culturally competent practice among counselor educators who work in leadership and administrative roles in higher education. To achieve an in-depth study of this phenomenon, a phenomenological methodology was utilized via semi-structured interviews. There were twelve themes that emerged representing the phenomenon examined. This study contributes to existing research and understanding pertaining to cultural competence in practice in complementary and alternative counselor educator career pathways. The findings, limitations and implications of the study are presented.