Racial/Cultural Identity Development Model
One of the most promising approaches to the field of multicultural counseling/therapy has been the work on racial/cultural identity development among minority groups. This model acknowledges within groups differences that have implications for treatment. The high failure-to-return rate of many clients seems to be intimately connected to the mental health professional’s inability to assess the cultural identity of clients accurately. The model also acknowledges sociopolitical influences shaping minority identity.
Atkinson, Morten, and Sue (1979, 1989, 1998; Sue & Sue, 2008) proposed a five-stage Minority Identity Development Model (MID) in an attempt to pull out common features that cut across various groups. The Racial/Cultural Identity Model is comprised of five stages; the Conformity Stage, the Dissonance and Appreciating Stage, the Resistance and Immersions Stage, the Introspection Stage, and the Integrative Awareness Stage. Within each, stage Atkinson et al., (1998; Sue & Sue, 2008) highlight the client’s attitudes for self, others of the same minority group, others of a different minority group and attitudes towards the dominate group.
In the Conformity Stage, minority individuals are distinguished by their unequivocal preference for dominant cultural values over their own. An example of the conformity stage is illustrated in the excerpt from Nisei student’s journal (1989; Sue & Sue, 2008). She identified more with the white culture having been born and raised in Arizona. She dislikes her Asian features and wanted Caucasian features. She found the Asian women unattractive and the Asian men less desirable than their Caucasian counterparts. Unlike minority groups, White Americans in the United States represent their own reference group, and the identification set is quite strong. Lifestyles, value systems, and cultural/physical characteristics that most resemble White society are highly valued across cultural lines. T he evidence of white racism is most prevalent within this stage of the R/CID. The pressures of assimilations and acculturations are strong due to the undemonstrated salience of their own race.
In the Dissonance Stage, an individual will encounter information or experiences that are inconsistent with culturally held beliefs, attitudes, and values. An African American who believes that Blacks are lazy, untrustworthy, and inadequate may encounter an African American leader who seems to break all these stereotypes (e.g., President Barack Obama). An African American who believes that race problems are due to laziness, untrustworthiness, or personal inadequacies of his or her own group may suddenly encounter racism on a personal level. In my opinion, a prime example of a person within this stage of development would be Tiger Woods.
Denial begins to break down, which leads to a questioning and challenging of the attitudes/beliefs of the conformity stage. In my opinion, this was clearly, what happened when Tiger Woods won the Masters and the tournament organizers openly joked that the menu would include watermelon and fried chicken. His racial dissonance was even further exacerbated when his character was maligned after he cheated on his White Wife. Adultery is something that happens every day in today’s society; what’s more, it is perpetuated by the media /society’s stereotype of the Successful Black Athlete.
In the third stage of R/CID, Resistance and Immersion the minority person tends to endorse minority-held views completely, being self-appreciating to the detriment of all other groups. Moreover, they reject the dominant values of society and culture. This type person could be what some might...