Diversity in Thinking, Practice and Research

Family psychologists must recognize ethnic and cultural differences between families, as well as similarities among families of all backgrounds. Developing multicultural sensitivity is a long-term process that requires an awareness of one’s own racial, ethnic, and class identity, as well as one’s unconscious biases. Until recently, family psychology, like the rest of psychology, was too often guilty of assuming that white, middle-class, heterosexual, two-parent families were the norm, and all other families were non-normative. It also is essential for family psychologists to be aware of the way in which gender and the unequal power relations between men and women construct family structures and family relationships. An understanding of gender politics and heterocentrism avoids mother-blaming, considering fathers peripheral to family life, and prejudice against single mothers and gay/lesbian parents.

Regardless of their individual differences or ethocultural background. He or she also advocates for the betterment of cultural groups and persons when they are not treated with the respect and sensitivity which they are due. Within this ethical view, the study of family systems and diversity are very much related and should be studied in tandem. For example, sociologists have for many years asserted that the family is the fundamental building block of society and that as goes the family so goes the nation (Parson and Bales, 1955). In essence there is an inherent link between individual differences, diversity and psychology as fields of psychological study. The family or tribe is literally the biopsychosocial soil in which identity and social process are nurtured and developed. Knowledge, skills and professional attitudes related to cultural competence play an increasing and vital role in our understanding of how to effectively use theoretical and clinical knowledge and skills to help families and organizational systems meet their needs. The next series of discussions further elaborate this concern.