Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling

Book Review by Laura Reid Marks

Evans, K. M. & Sejuit A. L. (2021). Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling (2nd ed.). National Career Development Association. 240 pages.


The release of the second edition of Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling is timely as there is a growing intention in the career counseling profession to focus on diversity and recognize the power imbalances that exist in our society and their influence on clients and career Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counselingcounselors. As I read this book, I found myself energized by its intentional focus on cross-cultural career counseling.

The authors, Kathy M. Evans and Aubrey L. Sejuit are well positioned to write this important and necessary book. Dr. Evans is Professor Emerita of the Counselor Education Program at the University of South Carolina and is a past president of the National Career Development Association (NCDA). She has published widely on career counseling and multicultural considerations. She has created a career development certificate graduate program and supervised students providing counseling. Dr. Sejuit is an Assistant Professor of Social Work and a Counselor for the Sib Collins Counseling Center at Limestone University. She is a Co-Founder and previously served as Committee Chair for the Ethics and Bylaws Committee for the South Carolina Career Development Association (SCCDA). She is an Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) veteran.

Foundational Skills for Cross-cultural Counseling

Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling is divided into two parts. The first four chapters prioritize the development of foundational skills for cross-cultural counseling. For example, the book begins with coveringthe argument as to why it is important to practice career counseling in culturally competent ways. This chapter includes a description of key competencies published/endorsed by the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development (AMCD), American Counseling Association (ACA) and National Career Development Association (NCDA). Ethical scenarios represented by clients from diverse ages, sexual orientations, races, and genders (among other diversity dimensions) are provided to provoke reflection in readers.

Chapters 2 and 3 are focused on getting the reader to delve deeper into their own cultural heritage and to facilitate an intentional exploration of their values and biases. I appreciated the authors intentional focus on within group differences, racial identity models, and intersectionality. The authors provide an in-depth explanation of overt racism and microaggressions, and the multilayered nature of racism. Privilege, often a difficult topic to discuss is disentangled. In addition, the ADDRESSING framework, which can be a useful starting place to conceptualize diversity, is explained. In chapter 4, a historical and political context is provided to highlight their importance in the lives of clients and career counselors. We are reminded that as humans we do not exist in vacuums and we are influenced by our environments. Multiple exercises are presented to help the reader to move through this process of understanding self, to facilitate an awareness of their clients’ worldviews. Only when we know ourselves, can we begin to know others.

Implementing Key Competence

The second part of the book includes five chapters that focus on implementing the key competencies introduced in chapters 1 thru 4 and applying them to career and social justice competencies. This half of the book, which includes chapters 5 to 9, begins with a review of key career counseling theories and their strengths and weaknesses in terms of cultural considerations. Here is where I found one shortcoming of the book. While providing a solid foundation on career development theories, some new and I think important theories are missing, such as the Psychology of Working Theory (which includes marginalization experiences and economic constraints) and Cognitive Information Processing (which includes complexities that may occur in one’s life). However, not all books can be comprehensive and so the book affirms the value of examining theories as the role of a competent counselor.

I found chapter 6 particularly beneficial as it walks the reader through culturally competent career counseling steps. It highlights the concept that personal and career counseling can complement each other. Some concrete examples of questions that counselors can ask clients to learn about their background in a non-judgmental way are presented. Indeed, the use of a case study helps draw the reader in and develop a strong understanding of the material being presented. Group career counseling and its steps are also presented. Chapters 7 and 8 are also applied topics, first with a focus on assessment and its shortcomings from a multicultural framework and then applying culturally competent career counseling implications for work with children and adolescents. I appreciated the authors focus on the environmental influences on career assessment. Moreover, they do a good job articulating the importance of recognizing when youth are marginalized and some strategies for working with marginalized youth.

The book ends with a chapter focused on social justice, which I found invigorating to read. The author's give a clear definition of social justice, which can often be lacking in discussions on the topic. The chapter gives concrete examples of actionable steps that readers can take to facilitate social change in their communities. Not only are social justice skills for career counselors discussed, but also social justice training. This chapter may be especially exciting for educators to read. A final nice touch is the addition of the relevant counseling competencies and checklists mentioned throughout the book in the Appendices, which means it is convenient for readers to reference these as they read the text.

Crucial Reading on Culture

Overall, some particular strengths of the book include its emphasis and inclusion of existing guidelines and competencies, its focus on the breath of diversity that exists (age, race, gender, etc.), and its use of case studies, as well as, review and reflection question exercises that help the readers to cement some of the key concepts. As an educator, I plan to use this book as an instructional reference in my multicultural counseling class. In particular, I see myself using some of the self-awareness exercises with students as I teach them to become more aware about their values and biases. The authors expertise and energy around diversity and multiculturalism are evident throughout the book. Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling is a crucial read for students in graduate programs, recent graduates, educators, and seasoned career development practitioners in our increasingly diverse society.


Gaining Cultural Competence in Career Counseling (2nd ed.) is available in the NCDA Career Resource Store, both in print and ebook (PDF) versions.


Laura MarksLaura Reid Marks, Ph.D, is an Assistant Professor in the Combined Counseling and School Psychology doctoral program at Florida State University. She is originally from Kingston, Jamaica. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology, as well as her Master of Arts in Education and Education Specialist in School Counseling from the University of Florida. She received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Purdue University, after completing her pre-doctoral internship at Arizona State University Counseling Services. Dr. Marks is the director of the Global Research On Working To ameliorate Health and career disparities (G.R.O.W.T.H.) Research Lab. The G.R.O.W.T.H. Research Lab examines racial discrimination and its influence on mental health and health behaviors, and career development in marginalized groups. Ultimately, the lab works to contribute to reducing health and career disparities. She can be reached at laura.reidmarks@fsu.edu

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