THE MEDIATING EFFECT OF MULTICULTURAL EXPOSURE ON THE MULTICULTURAL COUNSELING COMPETENCE OF MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS WHO WORK WITH LATIN AMERICAN IMMIGRANTS
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The interaction between mental health professionals and ethnically diverse clients has increased because of the evolving cultural landscape of the United States. Accounting for cultural differences within the counseling relationship became crucial; therefore, multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills were analyzed to determine multicultural counseling competencies (MCC) of mental health professionals. Additionally, multicultural exposure, or activities that increase MCC among mental health professionals, were discussed in this study. The purpose of this study was to validate the factor structure of the Multicultural Counseling Competence and Training Survey (MCCTS), and to investigate the mediating effects that multicultural exposure had on the MCC of mental health professionals who work with Latin American immigrants. The factor structure of the MCCTS was validated using an Exploratory Factor Analysis (EFA) and a Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). Further, Structural Equation Modeling (SEM) was employed to analyze the relationships between the multicultural exposure variables and the MCCTS factors. The results of the study confirmed a 5-factor model of the Multicultural Counseling Competence and Training Survey. Outcomes of the SEM framework provided insight into the effects of coursework, continuing education, occupation-related training, and experience working with Latin American immigrants on the multicultural knowledge of mental health professionals. For example, the more experience a mental health professional had working with Latin American immigrants, the less competent they rated their multicultural knowledge. Additionally, the education completed by mental health professionals was found to have a mediating effect between multicultural awareness and multicultural knowledge. Finally, the limitations, implications, and recommendations of the study were reviewed.