Patricia Arredondo, born July 17, 1945, is a nationally acclaimed Latina psychologist who has achieved prominence through her work on multicultural counseling competencies. Additionally, she is an international leader in the areas of counseling, counseling psychology, and psychology and is the founder of Empowerment Workshops, Incorporated, a consulting company that focuses on issues of diversity as they relate to the workplace. Through her research, outreach, and leadership, she has guided and inspired a generation of counselors and psychologists to examine what it means to be culturally competent to work with diverse populations. As someone who has negotiated several tensions in the field of mental health (e.g., counseling vs. counseling psychology, ethnic minority psychology vs. psychology), Arredondo serves as a visionary leader and role model for all mental health professionals.
Arredondo, a Mexican American, grew up in Loraine, Ohio, a town with a small Latino/a population at the time. Arredondo was a second-generation American on her father’s side and third generation on her mother’s side. Her grandmother was a Zapotee Indian from Oaxaca, Mexico, who later worked as a laborer at the steel mills in the small town near Cleveland, Ohio. The experiences of her family in the United States inspired and informed Arredondo in her work. Arredondo received her undergraduate degree in Spanish and journalism from Kent State University, received her master’s in counseling from Boston College, and was the first in her extended family to receive her doctorate in counseling psychology (from Boston University). She began her career as an assistant professor in counseling psychology at Boston University, where she found her academic competence questioned; some suspected that she was hired to be a token woman and ethnic minority in her department. Arredondo left Boston University in 1985 to launch a career as the founder and president of Empowerment Workshops, Incorporated, a consulting company based in Boston.
Through her work as the founder and president of Empowerment Workshops, Arredondo took on the roles of entrepreneur, psychologist in private practice, and organizational consultant. She worked with a variety of organizations providing a range of services, including training workshops and diversity initiatives with assessments, management consultations, and management training. Arredondo’s consulting company focused on assessing workplace culture, addressing barriers to workplace diversity, and offering business strategies to increase workplace diversity. Through Empowerment Workshops Arredondo reported that she gained a sense of personal and professional success.
Arredondo pioneered the use of the dimensions of personal identity model in her consulting work (see Figure 1). The model partitions identity into three dimensions: A, B, and C. The A dimensions include the following: age/generational status, culture, ethnicity, gender, language, physical/mental status, race, sexual orientation, and social class. These dimensions can have positive and negative valences, which impact self-concept, self-esteem, and empowerment, and they are the least changeable. The B dimensions are less visible and are developmental in nature: They include educational background, geographic location, hobbies/recreation, healthcare practices/beliefs, religion/spirituality, military experience, relationship status, and work experience. The C dimensions emphasize historical contexts and external forces that individuals and families must deal with. The C dimensions are personal/familial/historical, eras/events, and sociopolitical forces. Through the use of this model counselors can conceptualize clients in context and focus their interventions on specific dimensions. There is some emerging empirical support in the research literature for the use of the model, and the model has been adapted for use with specific populations (e.g., Latinos/as).
A highlight of her work was presenting her first book on diversity management to her parents, which Arredondo dedicated to them. In 1999, after several years with Empowerment Workshops, she returned to academia at Arizona State University (ASU) in the Department of Counseling and Counseling Psychology. At ASU she had to confront the challenge of navigating a new social network and once again having to prove her competence. Arredondo was able to continue her pattern of success and was tenured and promoted to the rank of full professor. In 2006 she became the Deputy Vice President and University Dean for Student Affairs at ASU.
Arredondo provided national professional leadership through being the first Latina president of the American Counseling Association (ACA) and the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, president of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic
Minority Issues (Division 45 of the American Psychological Association [APA]), and founding president of the National Latina/o Psychological Association. She served as chair of the Board for the Advancement of Psychology in the Public Interest of APA, cochair of the Executive Committee of the Latino Professional Network, chair of the ACA Publications committee, president of the Chicano Faculty and Staff Association of ASU, cochair of the Latino Professional Network, and member of the Board of Directors for the People of Color Network in Phoenix, Arizona.
Arredondo is best known for her work in creating, operationalizing, and advocating for the adoption of the multicultural counseling competencies. She has played a crucial role in bringing multiculturalism and culturally competent counseling to the forefront of the profession. Arredondo has promoted counselor awareness of their own cultural values and biases, counselor awareness of the client’s worldview, and use of culturally appropriate intervention strategies. The multicultural counseling competencies assert that culture is core to everyone’s (not just racial/ethnic minorities’) life experiences. The competencies state that in human interactions there are many personal dimensions of identity to consider, including different manifestations of culture based on varying historic, ethnic, economic, and other forms of diversity. Beginning with a seminal article in 1992, Arredondo has provided leadership in the operationalization of the multicultural competencies and the adoption of the multicultural competencies and guidelines by various professional groups, including the ACA and the APA. Arredondo’s work has helped to make counseling and counseling psychology relevant and responsive to an increasingly diverse and global workplace.
Arredondo has received several major recognitions, including being named a fellow of APA in Divisions 17 (the Society of Counseling Psychology) and 45 and receiving the Samuel H. Johnson Memorial Award from the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, the Distinguished Professional Service Award from ACA’s Association for Counselor Education and Supervision, the Kitty Cole Human Rights Award from ACA, and the inaugural Distinguished Professional Career Award from the National Latina/o Psychological Association. In recognition of her lifetime contributions to the profession of counseling, Arredondo was designated a “living legend” by ACA in 2004. In addition, Arredondo was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of San Diego for her multicultural leadership.
Arredondo has consistently been a pioneer in terms of being an ethnic minority and woman who has broken through barriers and achieved power, prestige, and influence in the business and academic worlds. For example, in 2006 she became the highest-ranking Latina in senior administration at ASU. Although in her career she has often been the “first” woman or Latina to achieve distinctions or take on leadership roles, she has made sure that others have followed behind her; thus, her career has been consistent with her empowerment mission and an example of how culture can be the source of personal power in a career.