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Counseling Across and Beyond Cultures

Counseling Across and Beyond Cultures: Exploring the Work of Clemmont E. Vontress in Clinical Practice

Roy Moodley
Rinaldo Walcott
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 256
  • Book Info
    Counseling Across and Beyond Cultures
    Book Description:

    Using as a starting point the pioneering work of Clemmont E. Vontress, the contributors toCounseling Across and Beyond Culturestrace the evolution of multicultural counseling and discuss remaining challenges for practitioners.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-6026-7
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Lynn E. Linde

    My journey in the profession of counseling began when I started my master’s program in counseling two years after I graduated from college in the early seventies. The first person I met was Dr Clemmont Vontress, the professor who was assigned to be my adviser. I vividly remember my first meeting with him; sitting in his office and looking around, I was absolutely in awe of him and incredibly intimidated. That feeling carried over to the next semester, when I took my first class with him, and for a while longer. I was about halfway through my master’s program when...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-16)

    The invisible man in Ralph Ellison’s quintessential American novel is in search of a personal identity that is beyond the racialized and ethnicized constructions of subjectivity, consciously and unconsciously imposed ‘by that turn of history.’ It is Frantz Fanon’s return to that history through ‘the fact of blackness’ inBlack Skin, White Masks(1952) that turns it around by offering us the ‘potentiality of something’ … perhaps something visible, visual, tactile, and material. Fanon enter this space of the politics of identity, declaring: ‘I am wholly what I am’ (p. 135), and in so doing attaches a material reality of...

  6. PART ONE: Clemmont E. Vontress – The Culturally Wounded Healer in Cross-Cultural Counseling

    • 1 Culture and Counseling: A Personal Retrospective
      (pp. 19-42)

      Although my great-grandfather was only a teenager when the Civil War in the United States started in 1861, his father went off to war and left him in charge of the family plantation in Warren County, Kentucky. For five years he supervised the planting and harvesting of the crops, raising farm animals, and the nearly one hundred slaves the Vontress family owned. While his father was gone, he cohabitated with a mulatto slave girl who worked in the ‘big house.’ Out of that relationship came three children, two girls and a boy. The boy was my grandfather. At the end...

    • 2 ‘In the Therapist’s Chair’ Is Clemmont E. Vontress: A Culturally Wounded Healer in Cross-Cultural Counseling
      (pp. 43-56)

      Clemmont E. Vontress has been an intellectual force in the field of cross-cultural counseling. His research has had a significant impact on multicultural counseling theory, research, and practice, influencing numerous counseling academics, researchers, and students, as well as the many counselors and psychotherapists working in clinical practice (see, for example, Vontress, 1962, 1971, 1979, 1982, 1991, 1999, 2005, in press). For nearly fifty years, he has written on five main themes: self-hatred, cultural difference, existential counseling, historical hostility, and traditional healing (Vontress, 1996, p. 157). His ideas are growing in significance in counseling psychology as scholars, researchers, and practitioners search...

    • 3 A Theory of Apprehension?: Fanon, Vontress, and Cultural Identity; or, How Not to Get Stuck There
      (pp. 57-70)

      The fundamental concern of Clemment Vontress and Frantz Fanon is the question of culture. Therefore, the question mark in my title is neither a caution nor an attempt to signal a coming problem. Rather, my question mark is meant to signal apprehension with a movement forward. The intent is not to apprehend Clemment Vontress, Frantz Fanon, or even cultural identity (all of which this chapter takes up), but even more to speak to the apprehensions that any engagement with the work of Vontress and Fanon and cultural identity should produce in the reading, thinking, desiring subject. I am therefore suggesting...

  7. PART TWO: Clemmont E. Vontress – An Inspiring Mentor in Cross-Cultural Counseling

    • 4 How Clemmont E. Vontress Inspired and Reinforced My Cross-Cultural Passion
      (pp. 73-81)

      Clemmont Vontress has pioneered a complex, yet practical, approach to cross-cultural counseling. By giving counselors the skills to work within universal principles of humanity, yet respect each individual’s personal and cultural worldview, his work has encouraged new standards of competence for our profession. This chapter is meant to be a reflection of the influence Clemmont has had on my professional work for the past 30–35 years. With this chronology in mind, I will discuss several themes: deliberate attention to racial and ethnic barriers in counseling, humanistic principles in cross-cultural counseling, culture-specific indigenous models of helping with clients of African...

    • 5 Clemmont E. Vontress: Reflections of a Long-Distance Mentee
      (pp. 82-96)

      Clemmont E. Vontress is a renowned leader in the counseling profession for introducing the term ‘culture’ and its ramifications into the counseling endeavor (Epp, 1998; Jackson, 1987; Lee, 1994). He is also well known in counseling circles for simplifying existential philosophy to help counselors understand the human condition and for identifying the universals that help the counselor in ‘connecting’ with the client (Epp, 1998). I have been honored to know him and his work for over 27 years and have seen the profound impact his thinking has had on my own research and teaching. I wish to clarify at the...

    • 6 My Apprenticeship to an Existentialist: Clemmont E. Vontress and His Therapeutic Philosophy
      (pp. 97-113)

      Alfred Adler remarked that he was able to develop his psychological theory only because he stood on the shoulders of a giant. His mentor, Sigmund Freud, was the giant who propelled Adler to a new level of psychological theorizing. In a similar fashion, Clemmont Vontress has been a seminal thinker in the field of counseling for over three decades. Many prominent academics and practicing counselors have proverbially stood on Vontress’s shoulders; and, in being uplifted by this great thinker, they were able to see farther than they would have without his devoted mentorship.

      It is a privilege for me, as...

    • 7 Counseling across Cultures: The Work of Clemmont E. Vontress from 1976 to 2007
      (pp. 114-130)

      Clemmont Vontress is one of a very small number of leaders in the field of counseling and psychotherapy who have continuously advocated the centrality of culture. He discovered the generic importance of culture early in his career. Since all behavior is learned and/or displayed in a cultural context, accurate assessment, meaningful knowledge, and appropriate intervention require that all counseling be provided in the client’s cultural context (Pedersen, 2000a). The consequences of these assumptions are that all counseling is multicultural.

      This chapter will review the ideas presented by Clemmont Vontress as an author over the six editions of the bookCounseling...

  8. PART THREE: Clemmont E. Vontress – Challenging the Traditions of Transnational Counseling Contexts

    • 8 Clemmont E. Vontress and His Work within the Sociopolitical Context of the United States, 1950–2000
      (pp. 133-145)

      The purpose of this chapter is to highlight the seminal work of Clemmont Vontress within the context of United States history in the last half of the 20th century. The chapter explores the historical and social context of the United States from the 1950s to the beginning of the 21st century. This provides a backdrop for understanding the rise of multiculturalism as a discipline within counseling. The chapter next focuses on how the work of Clemmont Vontress impacted multicultural theory and practice within this period. An exploration of how historical events shaped Vontress’s thinking and writing in each decade from...

    • 9 Clemmont E. Vontress and Multicultural Counseling in Canada
      (pp. 146-161)

      When discussing multicultural counseling in the 21st century, it is important to consider what we have learned from the past, how it influences where we are today, and what we might want to take forward for future learning and debate. As one of the founders of cross-cultural counseling in the United States, Dr Clemmont Vontress proposed many core ideas over a career spanning more than 30 years that have informed our journey and helped to chart our future. In the current decade, academics and practitioners are questioning what is unique about the cultural context of their nations and communities, and...

    • 10 Clemmont E. Vontress and British Multicultural Counseling
      (pp. 162-181)

      The study of culture¹ is central to Clemmont Vontress’s work. In fact. he argues that counselors are ‘obliged’ to be students of culture (1986b, p.216). His publications testify to his diligence. He states: ‘Counselors and clients share something in common, the universal culture. They also share the same destiny, death, which places the relationship on a very high plane. There is not time for petty pursuits’ (Vontress, 1988, p.76). His declaration espouses two major principles of existential counseling practice: the need to continually confront mortality and to recognize the universality of human experience (1982, p.362). Cultural difference, existential counseling, historical...

    • 11 Clemmont E. Vontress, African Cultural Imperatives, and Traditional Healing
      (pp. 182-199)

      People are more likely to relate with each other better if they understand one another’s cultures. A good understanding of people’s ways of being and doing should improve relationship among them. It is from this perspective that I consider Clemmont Vontress’s works on African traditional healing as attempts to make people understand and appreciate African cultural practices, especially those associated with healthcare delivery. However, Vontress’s passion and contributions in this regard notwithstanding, he remains a Westerner with Western perspectives for evaluating the different phenomena he came across in his African visits, including the responses to his inquiries and the events...

    • 12 Clemmont E. Vontress and Cross-Cultural Counseling in the Caribbean
      (pp. 200-216)

      Counseling in the English-speaking Caribbean¹ is a relatively new approach in addressing individuals’ problems driven by social, cultural, and situational factors considered beyond their control. Counseling first emerged in the Caribbean around the late 1970s. It is slowly gaining in popularity as many psychologists trained abroad are returning to the region (Ward & Hickling, 2004). Although counseling is not fully developed, it appears to be increasingly used in schools, to deal with family problems, and by individuals seeking the services of a counselor whenever a ‘serious’ problem arises. There are those, however, who question the role psychology plays within the...

  9. PART FOUR: Clemmont E. Vontress – Multiple Identities, Multiple Pathways, and Beyond

    • 13 Clemmont E. Vontress and the Ongoing Cultural Crisis in Counseling
      (pp. 219-232)

      In the last four decades, Clemmont Vontress has been pivotal in bringing culture to the consciousness of the counseling world (see, for example, Vontress, 1962, 1963, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1986, 2003, 2008). While Vontress and his allies have now formed a large community of multicultural and cross-cultural counselors, the issues of culture¹ and of its associated concepts of race² and ethnicity still remain relatively marginal in mainstream counseling and psychotherapy (Carter, 1995; Moodley, 1999a, 2007). The research and writing in this field is often restricted to a small group of scholars who attempt to make inroads into a profession that...

    • 14 Privileging Multiple Converging Identities in Counseling and Clemmont E. Vontress
      (pp. 233-246)

      Conceptualizations of diversity are influenced by one’s gender, race, and cultural identities. Written predominantly by racially diverse and heterosexually identified men, the early writings of cross-cultural counseling and psychology in the United States privileged race and cultural identities. Given the legacy and current reality of racism in America and the stratification of racial groups, this is understandable. Yet, as native-born people of color, immigrants, White women and men, gay and transgender people, and people with disabilities began writing from their personal, cultural, and clinical experiences, gender, sexual, and disability identities were made central to the literature. Increasingly, a focus on...

    • 15 African American Women, Race, and Gender Politics and the Work of Clemmont E. Vontress
      (pp. 247-262)

      Multiculturalism, a powerful force in the counseling profession, has infused counseling theory, research, and practice with new perspectives on race, class, gender, and other sociopolitical dimensions of identity, and has offered insight into how dynamics of power, domination, and subordination affect human psychology (D’Andrea, 2005; Jackson, 1995; Sue, Ivey, and Pedersen, 1996). As such, multiculturalism has effected a paradigmatic shift in psychological theory about race and other cultural variables – a shift from simplistic ‘deficiency’ analyses to appreciation for more nuanced renderings of the psychology of people of color.

      This fluid and dynamic conceptual landscape is augmented by multiculturalism’s recent sway...

    • 16 Reclaiming the Spirit: Clemmont E. Vontress and the Quest for Spirituality and Traditional Healing in Counseling
      (pp. 263-277)

      Historically, counseling and psychotherapy has been part of the philosophical traditions of European religion and spirituality. However, for much of the 20th century these concepts have been disavowed in psychology, but less so in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy since Freud’s and Jung’s psychoanalytic concepts of religion, spirituality, and the mind have had enormous and enduring influence in the field (Miller & Thoresen, 2004). While some scholars valued the examination of religion and spirituality in psychology, Richards and Bergen (1997) argue that psychology as a whole located itself within a 19th-century naturalistic science that is based on deterministic, reductionist, and positivist assumptions...

    • 17 Paving the Path of Culture and Counseling: A Conversation with Clemmont E. Vontress
      (pp. 278-292)

      On 27 and 28 July 2008 I interviewed Dr Clemmont E. Vontress in Washington, DC, at the invitation of Roy Moodley, one of the editors of this book. The first session took place in a conference room in the main library on the campus of George Washington University, where Dr Vontress is Professor Emeritus of Counseling. The second session was conducted in the library of his home in Washington. We taped almost four hours of conversation and what follows are selected passages from the interviews. I began by asking Dr Vontress how he started his counseling career.

      When I entered...

  10. Postscript
    (pp. 293-296)

    I am moved, honored, and enlightened by the content of the chapters written by my colleagues. I am pleased that they have read so many of my works, commented on them, and posited their ideas about the status and future of cross-cultural counseling. Their views will help to determine the substance and direction of this very important speciality of the psychotherapeutic profession, which continues to change rapidly in the United States and other countries. As this profession changes, mentoring becomes increasingly important to its evolution. This is why I am pleased that some of my colleagues discuss it. Their comments...

  11. Contributors
    (pp. 297-302)
  12. Index
    (pp. 303-320)