Cultural Barriers to be Explored During the Second Annual Webster Institute for Clinical Scholarship Summer Symposium

The 2022 Summer SymposiumThe second annual Webster Institute for Clinical Scholarship Summer Symposium will explore ways that counselors, social workers, nurses and other mental health professionals understand cultural differences and correctly identify what is normal or what is aberrant behavior. The day-long symposium will be held June 10 on Webster’s St. Louis campus.

“Cultural Competence as a Social Justice Issue” will feature multiple sessions that will focus on various challenges that counselors encounter when working with clients from different cultural backgrounds than their own, and successful strategies. This year’s keynote speaker is S. Kent Butler, past president of American Counseling Association, and renowned expert in the development and advancement of multicultural counseling competencies. Ann Shillingford, president of the Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development, is the closing speaker. Registration for the event is open now.

“We must be intentional to educate ourselves about our clients’ cultural norms in order to gain a better understanding of the issues that cause or contribute to mental health challenges. This will help us provide better care that leads to sustainable solutions in the lives of the clients we serve.” said Webster University Counseling Professor Muthoni Musangali. “For example, people who live under constant threat of gun violence may exhibit behaviors that might be misinterpreted as paranoia when in actual fact, they have learned as a matter of necessity to be vigilant and wary of their surroundings. They may have difficulty building and sustaining relationships. As a mental health or health professional, one should have a good understanding of these issues so you can partner with the clients to find solutions that work for them.”

Butler will kick off the symposium this year with opening remarks in the morning before attendees break out into smaller educational sessions. Two panels are planned with topic area experts to examine cultural competence and humility in behavioral health settings and discuss the impact of policy and legislation on mental health and health care systems, Other sessions include a discussion of intimate partner violence, a conversation about how understanding music from various cultures can help increase cultural competency, an exploration of best practices when treating individuals from different cultural backgrounds, and a look at the differences in approaches when counseling transgender clients. A full schedule of the day can be found on the registration website.

Butler holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, with a concentration in Counseling Psychology, from the University of Connecticut. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC) and Nationally Certified School Counselor (NCSC). He is an ACA Fellow, and hosted ACA’s weekly vodcast “The Voice of Counseling.”

Shillingford has several years of experience as a professional school counselor prior to completing her doctorate at the University of Central Florida. She has written several articles and book chapters on multicultural issues particularly focused on disparities among of color. She co-edited the book “The Journey Unraveled: College and Career Readiness of African American Students,” which was published in 2015. She also co-edited “Demystifying the DSM for School Counselors,” published in 2020. Shillingford is currently conducting research exploring the effects of media exposure to police and community violence on the physical and mental health of Black parents raising children and youth. 

Other guest speakers include:

  • Etoya White, founder of Etoya R. White Therapy & Coaching which provides individual, family dynamic, marital, couples and group therapy. He is also a life, relationship and sports performance coach. Etoya focuses on meeting the mental and emotional needs of men and boys, in and from Black and Brown spaces. He is a member of the Boards of Directors for CHADS Coalition for Mental Health, and a newly appointed member of the Board of Directors for St. Louis Voices Academy.  
  • Ariel Hooker Jones, an assistant professor and director of Applied Practice in the Social Work department at Southern Illinois University- Edwardsville. She is a clinical social worker and family/play therapist with several years of experience working in schools and community mental health agencies. 
  • Megan Robb is the current program director of the art therapy counseling graduate program at SIUE. Robb is a board-certified art therapist, a nationally certified counselor, and is licensed in Missouri and the District of Columbia. Throughout her career, she has worked in a variety of settings, including psychiatric hospitals, special education placements, and mental hospitals, including the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center. 
  • Michael Burton, who represents parts of St. Louis County including Affton, Grantwood Village, Concord and Lakeshire in the Missouri House of Representatives. He was elected to his first two-year term in November 2020. Born and raised in Affton, Burton is most well-known for spearheading the effort to save local landmark Tower Tee. Burton currently resides in Lakeshire.
  • Tori Schafer, ACLU, deputy director for Policy and Campaigns. She is a member of the Integrated Advocacy management team responsible for statewide policy and campaign initiatives. Under the Director of Integrated Advocacy, she works in collaboration with deputy directors of communications, community engagement and litigation to strategize and select advocacy campaigns that protect civil liberties at all levels of government throughout Missouri.
  • Jaimie Hileman, past board member, board president, and co-executive director of the Metro Trans Umbrella Group. Hileman is the founder of the Trans Education Service LLC of St. Louis and associate member of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health. 

The Institute for Clinical Scholarship was created after Webster University was awarded the Health Resources and Services Administration - Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training (HRSA-BHWET) grant in 2021. The grant aims to increase the supply of culturally competent behavioral health professionals in order to promote access to quality behavioral health services. Musangali is the principal investigator and Professors Hasmik Chakaryan and Claire Martin are co-investigators on this grant.

Under the four-year grant, Webster University is partnering with the St. Louis County Department of Public Health and other community agencies to implement a Clinical Case Management/Ecological model to improve the delivery of mental health services to high-need and underserved populations within the greater Saint Louis region. These underserved communities include Black/African Americans, refugees and immigrants, English Language Learners, low-income, LGBTQ, rural, and others who face cultural, linguistic, and/or economic barriers to health care in the greater St. Louis region. 

The Webster Institute for Clinical Scholarship and the SIUE BHWET grant are supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1,083,454 million with 0% percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit 

This year’s Summer Symposium is also sponsored by the Chiron Community Giving Foundation. The foundation’s goals include creating strong models for impactful work that will increase access to high-quality, affordable mental health care by partnering with organizations who provide clinical care, access to basic needs, or education/training programs; identifying and investing in strategic opportunities that offer the promise of sustainable positive change in targeted areas of North St. Louis City and North St. Louis County; fostering collaboration through capacity-building and active support of organizational development activities of grantees and honoring diversity, equity, and inclusion through consistent action is a moral imperative.

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