Providing culturally-sensitive mentoring for Asian international students studying counseling psychology

Park-Saltzman, J., Wada, K., & Mogami, T. (2012). Culturally Sensitive Mentoring for Asian International Students in Counseling Psychology. The Counseling Psychologist, 40(6), 895-915

Summarized by Ariel Ervin 

Notes of Interest:

  • Counseling psychology programs are becoming increasingly international.
  • This study proposes various methods to provide effective and culturally sensitive mentoring relationships for international students, who are in counseling psychology programs – particularly Asian international students.
  • Includes general and contextual information on Asian values and on mentoring Asian international mentees.
  • Specifically delves into information concerning common issues for Asian international students, communicating with the international mentees, as well as issues on career and professional development.

Introduction (Reprinted from the Abstract)

With growing attention to the internationalization of counseling psychology in the past decade, discussion on effective training of international students is much-needed. In order to provide effective mentorship to international students, the mentor needs to be aware of specific challenges faced by international students and cultural differences that may affect their mentoring relationship. With this in mind, this article discusses ways to provide culturally sensitive mentoring particularly to Asian international students in counseling psychology programs. A brief overview of Asian values is provided as a contextual backdrop to the article, followed by a discussion of culturally sensitive mentoring to Asian international mentees. In particular, the article addresses the mentor’s awareness and knowledge of unique issues faced by Asian international students, the structure and format of mentoring, communication between the mentor and the mentee, and professional development and career-related issues.


Implications (Reprinted from the Discussion)

Although learning to navigate cultural differences with Asian international students can be a rewarding and growth-enhancing experience for mentors (Ng, 2006), mentoring Asian international students to advance in their professional career, while honoring their values and belief system, requires a high level of cultural sensitivity and intercultural skills on the mentors’ part. Mentors may need to constantly examine their cultural assumptions that might affect the mentoring relationships, attend to cultural differences between mentor and mentee, while respecting the uniqueness of individual students, and use creative strategies to negotiate cultural differences with Asian international mentees. These endeavors would be in line with calls within the profession for making mentoring a conscious and intentional process (Johnson, 2002). In turn, mentees need to be open to cultural differences with the mentor and take responsibility for their own professional development.

In essence, intentional efforts need to be sustained on the part of both the mentor and the mentee to create an open environment in which “the differences are valued and explored rather than minimized, denied, or contained” (Benishek et al., 2004, p. 436). Such culturally sensitive mentoring can help Asian international mentees to reframe their differences from individuals from the majority cultures as signs of strengths rather than of deficits and weaknesses, which in turn would serve as a fundamental foundation for professional success of these mentees.


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