International Education and Service Learning: Approaches Toward Cultural Competency and Social Justice

Abstract

The field of counseling psychology continues to see a perpetual underutilization of mental health resources by many cultural
groups, including international populations. Underutilization of services is due, in part, to psychologists’ deficiency in
cultural and international competency. International education—an experiential learning technique that involves cultural contact—has
been proposed as an alternative method for training students to work effectively cross-culturally. The current article examines
the effects of service learning embedded in a study abroad diversity course in Singapore. The course was designed for graduate
counseling psychology students as an experiential vehicle for developing cultural competency and awareness of social justice
issues through direct contact with diverse groups. Qualitative data are reviewed, and implications for training, such as integration
of cross-cultural and social justice issues in counseling training programs, are discussed.

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