Professional counsellors’ perceptions and experiences of multicultural counselling in Malaysia: a qualitative study

Rafidah Aga Mohd Jaladin, Janette Graetz Simmonds, Cynthia Joseph

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Background and Purpose: The contemporary status of multicultural counselling field in Malaysia is ambiguous as there is limited research in this field. Even though Malaysia is deemed as a multicultural nation, there are still some issues and concerns with regards to the understanding and practice of multicultural counselling. Hence, the present research aims to: (a) explore the definitions of the term ‘multicultural counselling’ as perceived by professional counsellors; (b) identify the dimensions of multicultural competence as perceived by counsellors’ community sample; (c) identify the characteristics of a multiculturally competent counsellor; and (d) explore the most challenging cases or anecdotes experienced by professional counsellors when counselling culturally different clients in the local context.
Methodology: Semi-structured in-depth interviews were employed to gather 22 professional counsellors’ reflections on lived counselling experiences and their perceptions of multicultural counselling concepts. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the interview data, but with some adaptation to suit the functions of NVivo 9.
Findings: Several themes and categories emerged based on four probing topics (understanding of multicultural counselling, definition of multicultural competence, characteristics of a multiculturally competent counsellor, and challenging multicultural cases).
Contributions: The results seem to suggest that Malaysian counsellors need to continuously engage in professional development training and to actively seek practice opportunities with culturally diverse clients. The education sector and local professional bodies for counsellors also need to better train and educate pre- and in-service counsellors in order to become multiculturally competent practitioners.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-281
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Nusantara Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jun 2020


  • Counsellor education and training
  • Malaysian counselling profession
  • multicultural counselling
  • multicultural counselling competency
  • professional counsellors

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