In commemorating Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage this month of May, the Diversity Committee thought we would give a special highlight to Dr. Derald Wing Sue and his trailblazing work, who will also be our keynote speaker for the LACPA convention on October 26th, 2024. Excerpts of Dr. Sue's history and influence were taken from an article in The Los Angeles Psychologist written by Dr. Cris Scaglione.


A Key Figure in Multicultural Psychology

"Born on New Year’s Eve, 1947, the eldest of six children born to Chinese immigrants (Munsey, 2006), Derald Wing Sue heralded the advent of a new discipline in psychology. Experiences of racism in his youth in an affluent neighborhood of Portland Oregon influenced him (and two brothers, Stanley, and David) to become psychologists who worked towards understanding and diminishing the harm of ethnic/racial and other prejudice, ultimately influencing the development of a robust multicultural psychology.

Influenced by his own experiences of racism, advances by the Civil Rights Movement, and the founding of ABPsi (Association of Black Psychologists), Sue, with his brother, and fellow psychologist, Stanley Sue understood the importance of understanding the culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, ensuring that they too received attention and accurate mental health services. In 1972, Derald and Stanly Sue co-founded the Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA).  This was a watershed moment in multicultural psychology.

His diligent research led to the development of the Multicultural Counseling and Therapy (MCT) model—a framework for understanding how cultural factors influence psychotherapy. It emphasizes knowledge and awareness of one’s own and other peoples’ culture, specific skills in providing effective therapy to clients from diverse backgrounds. 

As a psychologist, Sue bases much of his work in empirical research, which has focused primarily on racism, but he readily acknowledges sexism, heterosexism, and other “isms” as harmful, personal, and institutional sources of microaggressions (Sue, 2010; Sue & Spanierman, 2020).  More recently, he has developed and trained others in the use of  psychosocial interventions to reduce the occurrence and impact of microaggressions. His goal is to “disarm and dismantle” not just microaggressions, but macroaggressions as well (Sue, 2021). 

Dr. Sue continues to exemplify the very best of our profession. He transformed his negative experiences of bullying and racial/ethnic prejudice into a still-evolving career spanning over 50 years as a co-founder of an entirely new branch of psychology."

Quotes from D.W. Sue

From Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race

 - We do not live in a post-racial society. Our goal should not be to try to be colorblind but to be “color kind”.

 - To deny the impact of racism on one’s life is to deny a reality that people of color understand all too well.

From Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation

 - Racial and cultural minority individuals are constantly faced with invalidating and alienating experiences in their daily interactions."

 - To be culturally competent is to be aware of our own cultural worldview, put it aside to the best of our ability, and to understand the cultural beliefs, values, and practices of others. 

From Counseling the Culturally Diverse: Theory and Practice

 - Cultural competence means that mental health professionals approach diverse clients with the respect and humility of knowing that they cannot truly understand the client’s experiences unless they see the world through the client’s eyes.

 - Culture is like the air we breathe; it is everywhere yet invisible. We rarely think about our own or other people’s cultural backgrounds until we are confronted with a culture that is different from our own.

 - It is crucial for those who hold power to understand that they have the ability to either perpetuate or disrupt oppressive systems. 


Munsey, C. (2006). A family for Asian psychologists. Monitor on Psychology, 37(2).

Sue, D. W. (2010).  Microaggressions in everyday life:  Race, gender & sexual orientation. Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Sue, D. W. (2015). Race talk and the conspiracy of silence: Understanding and facilitating difficult dialogues on race. Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Sue, D. W. (2010).  Microaggressions in everyday life:  Race, gender & sexual orientation. Hoboken, NJ:  Wiley.

Sue, D. W. (2021). Microintervention toolkit: Individual actions and best practices to disarm and neutralize microaggressions and macroaggressions. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Sue, D. W., & Spanierman, L. (2020). Microaggressions in everyday life. (2nd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

Sue, D. W., & Sue, D. (2012). Counseling the culturally diverse: Theory and practice (6th ed.). John Wiley & Sons, Inc..

Kristoffer Park, Ph.D.