Racial and Ethnic Identity Theory, Measurement, and Research in Counseling Psychology: Present Status and Future Directions

  • Ponterotto J
  • Park-Taylor J
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The authors of the present article begin with a note on politics and ideology in writings on racial identity development and review general progress the field has made on the topics of racial and ethnic identity development. The present challenges in both explicating clear and concise theories of racial and ethnic identity development and operationalizing and measuring these constructs in paper-and-pencil form are identified. The need for interdisciplinary work on theory testing is highlighted, and select examples of best practices in measuring racial and ethnic identity are presented. The article closes with directions for research in racial and ethnic identity development, and with implications for counseling practice, supervision, and systemic change. We are pleased and honored to have this opportunity to com-ment on and integrate the special section contributions of Cokley (2007); Helms (2007); Trimble (2007); Quintana (2007); and Phinney and Ong (2007). Before specifying the goals of this final article in the special section, we would like to acknowledge the contributors for their dedication to scholarship and their courage in presenting their views in this very public forum. We assume that for our invited group of authors, studying racial and ethnic identity is not only an intellectual endeavor but also a personal journey (see, e.g., the published life stories of Helms, 2001; and Trimble, 2001). The contributors to this special section have taken risks in opening up their work and perspectives to a heightened level of scrutiny and criticism, and in doing so, they have given a tremen-dous gift to the Journal of Counseling Psychology (JCP) reader-ship. For this, we thank them. Our modest goals in the present article are to highlight unique and transcendent themes across the invited contributions, to pro-vide concrete directions for ongoing theory development and re-search on racial and ethnic identity development, and to consider the implications of this corpus of work on counseling practice and supervision. The present article is organized along seven brief sections that cover, respectively, (a) a note on politics and ideology in the study of racial identity development, (b) a present assess-ment of progress in understanding racial and ethnic identity de-velopment, (c) commentary on construct clarification, (d) inter-secting racial and ethnic identity development perspectives across related disciplines, (e) examples of best practices in scale devel-opment and revision, (f) directions for needed research on the topics, and (g) implications for counseling practice and supervi-sion.

Author-supplied keywords

  • ethnic identity
  • ethnicity
  • measurement
  • race
  • racial identity

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  • Joseph G Ponterotto

  • Jennie Park-Taylor

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