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American Psychological Association


In Student beliefs, multiculturalism, and client welfare, Professor Kristin Hancock offers a thoughtful description of and reflection on the contemporary challenges associated with psychology graduate trainees managing their personal and religious beliefs and practices with the training and professional demands of the psychology profession and their educational training institutions. She reviewed several recent court cases (e.g., Ward v. Polite et al., Keeton v. Anderson-Wiley et al., Ward v. Wilbanks et al.) where psychology students sued their graduate programs (typically secular state universities) because their training requirements included multicultural competency training involving sexual issues such as homosexuality. These graduate training efforts that highlight and underscore the profession’s demand for comprehensive multicultural competence were claimed to conflict with these students’ personal, religious, and moral beliefs. For example, students wished to opt out of training on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBQT) issues and refuse to work with clinical patients who are from these groups. They then file lawsuits citing the importance of their religious or moral beliefs. They don’t want to work with non-heterosexual clients since they disapprove of their sexual behavior and choice of partners. Dr. Hancock provides a comprehensive and engaged review of these challenges and concludes by stating that “personal beliefs can and do inform the lives of practitioners; however, they cannot trump the ethical principles and standards of the profession.” Additionally, she concludes that psychology training programs “must not be penalized for helping students acquire the knowledge, attitudes, and skills needed to provide multicultural competent mental health services.”


Copyright © 2014 American Psychological Association. This article may not exactly replicate the final version published in the APA journal. It is not the copy of record. The final version can be found at:



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