Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)




Osman Özturgut


Dorothy Ettling


Audra Skukauskaite


John M. Velasquez


There is a general recognition that the United States has historically failed to provide adequate mental health services to ethnic minorities. The American Counseling Association has mandated multicultural competence of counseling professionals in today’s context of dramatic demographic change. Despite numerous studies on practitioners, organizations, models, and interventions geared toward minorities, disparities in access, usage, and outcomes in still exist. Simultaneously, counseling fields have emphasized leadership development as a key factor in improving services, yet training or research on leadership remains scarce. In response to these conditions, this basic interpretive qualitative study focused on exploring clinical managers’ perceptions of their multicultural leadership practices in daily interactions in outpatient mental health settings. Bennett’s (2003) Developmental Model of Intercultural Sensitivity was used as the study’s guiding theoretical framework. Using face-to-face interviews with 10 licensed psychotherapists in positions of mental health leadership in the southwestern United States, data was collected about the participants’ learning experiences and beliefs about how to relate to cultural difference as clinical managers. The constant comparison analysis indicated four major themes: culture as a complex concept, multicultural learning experiences outside of formal educational settings, leadership issues, and the recognition of organizational culture and its impact. The findings uncovered specific information about the participants’ self-identified multicultural leadership practices such as specific ways of handling human resource issues, shared decision making, and staffing and supervision strategies. The findings also spoke to the roles of the organization, executive leadership and the multiple cultural influences that impacted the multicultural leadership learning experiences and practices of the participants in the study. Original contributions of the research included the following: (a) the clinical managers in the study formulated their own unique multicultural leadership practices independent of organizational directives or formalized training; and (b) the organization can impact multicultural leadership practices through a variety of means. Future research should focus on clinical managers’ cultural interactions in mental health, intercultural sensitivity at work, and organizational factors that affect multicultural leadership with the aim of creating multicultural leadership models to guide professional practice.