APA releases important guidelines on race and ethnicity in psychology: Implications for mentoring

In 2019, the American Psychological Association (APA) published comprehensive guidelines on addressing issues of race and ethnicity in all areas of psychological practice (APA Task Force on Race and Ethnicity Guidelines in Psychology). This seminal report provides an extensive review of theoretical and empirical literature to inform psychologists on promoting racial and ethnocultural responsiveness and equity.


The APA has complex history with racism and there is a  need for guidelines specific to race and ethnicity given the growing racial/ethnic diversity and evolving sociopolitical realities in the U.S.

These new guidelines are grounded in a three-part model of multicultural responsiveness (awareness, knowledge, skills) with attention to the context/ Two key principles are:

1) the ubiquitous influence of race/ethnicity and related power/privilege dynamics, and

2) social justice is inherent to effective responsiveness.


The guidelines were developed by an APA task force through an extensive process:

– Reviewing abundant literature on race/ethnicity from psychology and other disciplines
– Using a multidisciplinary approach including anthropology, ethnic studies, and critical race theory
– Soliciting feedback through open comment and consultation with experts
– Spanning over 8 years of iterative revisions and approvals

The final guidelines are organized into four sections with 17 total guidelines: fundamental principles, education/training, practice, and research.


The fundamental guidelines establish core principles, including:

– Recognizing race/ethnicity’s influence across all professional activities (Guideline 1)
– Maintaining updated knowledge through interdisciplinary scholarship (Guideline 2)
– Developing awareness of one’s positionality and biases (Guideline 3)
– Addressing organizational and social inequities related to race/ethnicity (Guideline 4)

The education and training guidelines promote strategies such as:

– Creating inclusive curricula that address racial/ethnic influences (Guideline 5)
– Fostering self-awareness, critical thinking, and reflective practice (Guideline 6)
– Developing community engagement skills for diverse populations (Guideline 7)
– Promoting educational systems that counter racial biases (Guideline 8)

The practice guidelines recommend approaches like:

– Providing assessment and interventions free from racial/ethnic bias (Guideline 9)
– Engaging in reflective practice on how worldviews affect services (Guideline 10)
– Integrating indigenous/ethnocultural healing sources (Guideline 11)
– Challenging negative biases and oppression in practice settings (Guideline 12)

The research guidelines advocate for:

– Conducting studies that promote well-being of racial/ethnic minorities (Guideline 13)
– Identifying and reducing racial/ethnic bias in methods and interpretation (Guideline 14)
– Explicitly operationalizing race, ethnicity, and related constructs (Guideline 15)
– Maintaining ethnocultural ethical standards in research (Guideline 16)
– Promoting practices ensuring racial equity in research systems (Guideline 17)

 Implications for mentoring programs:

Promoting cultural awareness and self-reflection: Mentoring programs should provide training to help mentors increase their self-awareness about their own racial/ethnic identities and potential biases. This self-reflection can help mentors build more authentic and culturally-responsive relationships with mentees from diverse backgrounds. (side note: MentorPRO Academy has infused these guidelines into many of the trainings).

Building knowledge about diverse racial/ethnic groups: Mentoring programs should equip mentors with knowledge about the cultures, values, norms and experiences of the racial/ethnic groups they serve. This can help mentors better understand and connect with their mentees’ backgrounds.

Developing culturally-relevant skills:  Mentors need training on culturally-responsive mentoring approaches, communication styles, activities and curriculum that resonate with diverse mentees. Programs should avoid one-size-fits-all models.

Addressing racial/ethnic inequities: Mentoring programs should examine and work to counteract potential racial biases or barriers within their structures, practices and systems that may disadvantage mentees of color.

Promoting inclusive environments: Mentoring programs need to cultivate welcoming, affirmative spaces that validate and celebrate the racial/ethnic identities of all mentees.

In essence, these APA guidelines underscore the importance of mentoring programs becoming more culturally-aware, knowledgeable about diversity issues, and skilled in providing culturally-responsive and equitable services to racially/ethnically diverse mentees

Read the full report. 

P.S. Let us know if you’d like the full report!