Since the initial version of the Guidelines on Multicultural Education, Training, Research, Practice, and Organizational Change for Psychologists (APA, 2002) was released, there has been significant growth in research and theory regarding multicultural contexts. The guidelines were passed by the American Psychological Association (APA) Council of Representatives at the 2002 annual conference and were posted on the APA website. The attention given to these guidelines, including their publication in the American Psychologist (2003), speaks to the profession’s recognition of the important role that diversity and multiculturalism plays, both in terms of how individuals and groups define themselves, and how they approach others within the United States and globally (APA, 2002). 

These current Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality, 2017 (PDF, 1MB) (i.e., Multicultural Guidelines) are conceptualized from a need to reconsider diversity and multicultural practice within professional psychology at a different period in time, with intersectionality as its primary purview. The 2017 version of the Multicultural Guidelines encourages psychologists to consider how knowledge and understanding of identity develops from and is disseminated within professional psychological practice. Endemic to this understanding is an approach that incorporates developmental and contextual antecedents of identity and how they can be acknowledged, addressed and embraced to engender more effective models of professional engagement. The 2017 Multicultural Guidelines incorporate broad reference group identities (e.g., Black/African American/Black American, White/White American, and Asian/Asian American/Pacific Islander) to acknowledge within-group differences and the role of self-definition in identity.

With the 2017 Multicultural Guidelines, APA and its members are presented with an opportunity to participate directly, as professional psychologists, in engaging a fuller understanding of diversity and its considerations within practice, research, consultation and education (including supervision) to directly address how development unfolds across time and intersectional experiences and identities; and to recognize the highly diverse nature of individuals and communities in their defining characteristics, despite also sharing many similarities by virtue of being human. Our conscious awareness of what it means to think, feel, regulate, behave and create meaning has been enhanced by advances in research and clinical scholarship affording us a contemporary consideration of psychology that incorporates human differences across their varied elements.

Suggested Citation

American Psychological Association. 2017. Multicultural Guidelines: An Ecological Approach to Context, Identity, and Intersectionality. Retrieved from: