Dr. Courtland Lee is the editor of two books on counseling and social justice, in addition to multiple chapters and journal articles focusing on counseling trends, therapeutic relationships, counselor advocacy, and identity development. As an African-American educational consultant and international counseling leader, he has no qualms with pointing out how much he feels a moral obligation to be a mentor to other African-American males, both in and out of the field of psychology.
“I think it’s crucial that we recruit more mental health professionals of color, and ensure that we help them to develop the awareness, knowledge, and skills to work competently with people from diverse cultural backgrounds,” Lee says. “Although it might seem obvious that people with similar cultures may be able to relate or counsel each other better, the research does not necessarily bear that out. What the research does suggest is that what is more important than cultural similarity is cultural competency.”
This viewpoint is one of the primary reasons he’s just as adamant about diversity. He is a former president of the International Association for Counselling, and the only American to receive a fellowship from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), due to his service with the organization and counseling in the United Kingdom. Lee has attended BACP’s annual conferences and helps members address issues of cultural diversity in counseling.
Lee holds a bachelor’s degree in history; a master’s degree in counseling; and is a member of Chi Sigma Iota, the international counseling honor society. In addition to his educational merit, publications, and international connections, he also participated in a series titled “Courageous Conversations” that focused on equity and cultural differences to drive successful outcomes for underserved youth. The series gave school counseling professionals nationwide the opportunity to openly discuss racial attitudes, beliefs, and practices that intersect to keep youth of color from achieving optimal performance in schools.
“Learn as much about the world as you possibly can so that you have the global literacy needed to understand the multifaceted nature of the counseling profession,” he advises students wanting to excel in the field of counseling. “Learn as much as you can about history, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, geography, and the fine arts so that you approach counseling theory and practice with more than just a psychology lens.”