Date of Award

Spring 5-9-2015

First Advisor

Shelly Goebl-Parker

Second Advisor

Megan Robb

Third Advisor

P. Gussie Klorer


The research study aimed to understand the praxis of mental health professionals working with immigrant and refugee populations in relation to ethical guidelines and agency protocols. Through practice-led inquiry, seven mental health professionals were interviewed from differing therapeutic backgrounds and orientations; including Marriage and Family Therapy, Clinical Social Work, Counseling, and Art Therapy. The researcher sought to identify how theory of therapeutic professionals differ, where professionals are engaging in culturally competent practice and what impact this has on the therapeutic relationship. Participants identified the key components of a positive therapeutic relationship include trust, cultural competency, approach, presence, as well as gift giving/receiving, and food sharing. A major finding highlighted that agency protocols are obstacles to the professional’s ability to practice in a culturally competent manner, as well as the importance of general helping skills. The researcher incorporated findings and proposed ethic committees create a proposal for therapeutic professionals to utilize that supports the need for culturally competent considerations in agency policy development.