Cultural Competence: The Immigrant Experience

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Clinical practice currently faces a crisis of competence and conscience in the treatment of clients whose ethnicity, race, or class renders them minority groups in American society. Even with the best of intentions and belief in our own objectivity/impartiality, we practitioners often unwittingly, even unconsciously, impose presumptuous interpretations and interventions on clients' lives. It should come as no surprise, then, that ethnic minority groups are the smallest users of mental health services, and when these groups do use treatment, they show the highest premature termination rate of any social group. Three experts discuss culture, class, gender, the family life cycle and how to work more effectively with minority and immigrant clients and families.

Target audience: Psychologists, mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, social workers, addiction counselors, nurses, case managers

This CE course is designated as intermediate. There is no known conflict of interest or commercial support.


  • Print Version / Test Preview
  • Part 1: Ethnicity and Immigration - Interview with Monica McGoldrick, PhD
  • Part 2: The Legal Hoops of Immigration - Interview with Kenneth Geman, JD
  • Part 3: The Impact of Migration on Families - Interview with Celia Falicov, PhD
  • Part 4: References
  • CE Test
  • Evaluation

Author Bio

Subject Matter Experts:

Monica McGoldrick, PhD, Director of the Multicultural Family Institute in Highland Park, New Jersey, is also Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. She was visiting professor at Fordham University School of Social Service for twelve years. For five years she was Co-Director of the Cultural Competence Training Center for Central New Jersey, under a grant to provide organizational consultation and training for mental health agencies in New Jersey.

Dr. McGoldrick is known internationally for her writings and teaching on topics including culture, class, gender, the family life cycle, loss, family patterns (genograms), remarried families, and sibling relationships. Her videotape of clinical work with a multicultural family around issues of loss is one of the most widely respected in the field. Several of her books have become best-selling classics of their publishers, among them, Ethnicity and Family Therapy, now in its 3rd edition, co-edited with Joe Giordano and Nydia Garcia-Preto.

Kenneth Y. Geman, JD, is an immigration attorney with offices in Chicago, Illinois. He is past chairman of the American Immigration Lawyers' Association Chapter in Illinois. Attorney Geman was awarded a BS from the University of Wisconsin and a law degree from the Northwestern University School of Law. He also is a graduate of the U.S. Army Medical Service Basic Officer Course and the Brooke Army Medical Center Surgeon's Assistant's Course.

Mr. Geman has served on numerous immigration law committees and has been a frequent lecturer at education and immigration seminars throughout the country as well as at numerous law schools in Illinois. Attorney Geman has been in private practice since 1967 with service concentrated in all areas of immigration. In that capacity he has worked closely with mental health providers concerning a wide range of immigration cases to include asylum, violence against women, and medical hardship waiver matters to mention only a few.

Celia Jaes Falicov, PhD, is an internationally known family therapy author, teacher, and clinician. A licensed clinical psychologist, she is clinical professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine and directs prevention and mental health services for immigrant clients at the Medical Student Run Free Clinic of the University of California, San Diego. She is past president (1999-2001) of the American Family Therapy Academy.

Dr. Falicov pioneered writings on migration and cultural perspectives in psychotherapy practice and training and has received many professional awards for this work. Her recent publications include the widely praised Latino Families in Therapy (2014, 2nd edition) and the co-authored 2014 American Psychological Association book, Multiculturalism and Diversity in Clinical Supervision. Many of her recent articles address various aspects of the psychological impact of migration in individual and families at all stages of the life cycle and clinical work with transnational families.


Barbara Alexander, LCSW, BCD,, is a graduate of the Smith College School for Social Work and the Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy Program of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. After working for 13 years in child psychiatric settings and 30 years in private practice, she is now founder and president of On Good Authority, and an expert interviewer.

CE Approvals

At Health is an APA-Approved Sponsor At Health, LLC is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. At Health, LLC maintains responsibility for the program and its content.

At Health is an NBCC-Approved SponsorAt Health, LLC has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 6949. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. At Health, LLC is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

At Health, LLC is an approved provider of continuing education through the co-sponsorship of At Health, LLC, and Amedco, LLC.  Amedco, #1346, is approved as a provider for social work continuing education by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB), through the Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Amedco maintains responsibility for the program. ASWB Approval Period: 6/24/2016 to 6/24/2019.

At Health is an Approved Sponsor of the California Board of NursingAt Health, LLC is a provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing (CA BRN), Provider # CEP 17059. California Licensed Vocational Nurses and California Psychiatric Technicians can take online courses by California Board of Registered Nursing (CA BRN) approved providers, such as At Health, LLC, to fulfill their CE requirements.

At Health is an Approved Sponsor of the Texas State Board of ExaminersAt Health, LLC is an approved provider of the Texas State Board of Social Work Examiners, provider #7566.

At Health, LLC is an approved provider of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Marriage and Family Therapists, provider #908.

At Health, LLC is an approved provider of the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors, provider # 3303.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for social work in Arkansas.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for social workers, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, master's level psychologists, licensed clinical psychotherapists, and alcohol and other drug abuse counselors in Kansas.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for mental health practice and for social work in Nebraska.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for psychologists, pastoral psychotherapists, clinical social workers, clinical mental health counselors, marriage and family therapists, and alcohol and drug abuse counselors in New Hampshire.

These programs meet the criteria of an approved continuing education program for social workers, professional counselors, marital and family therapists, and clinical pastoral therapists in Tennessee. is approved as a continuing education provider by the National Association of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC) Provider #148460.

The above CE sponsorships are honored by many additional state boards of social work, marriage and family therapy, and licensed professional counseling. Some restrictions may apply. Check with your state board or certifying organization to find out if online courses or home study are accepted as part of your continuing education requirement for license renewal or re-certification, or call At Health, LLC at 888-284-3258 for information regarding CE approvals.

Page last modified or reviewed by on Jul 10, 2018.

Learning Objectives

Upon completing this program, you should be able to

  • Discuss the impact of cultural assumptions on clinical practice with minorities and immigrants
  • Identify some of America's immigration tracks and categories
  • Describe the feelings of loss and shame felt by many immigrants
  • Help immigrants develop a shared story about their migration.

242 reviews for Cultural Competence: The Immigrant Experience

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