Visibility of Whiteness: Analyzing White Privilege among Female Counseling Trainees

Visibility of Whiteness: Analyzing White Privilege among Female Counseling Trainees Project of Merit poster


Research Authorship:

Caitlyn Murtha, Dr. Tes Tuason, & Dr. Lynne Carroll

Faculty Mentor:

Dr. Tes Tuason | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health


Interracial dialogues about racial issues are often accompanied by anger, anxiety and guilt. For example, the notion of Whiteness as a privileged status frequently provokes strong negative affect and denial in White persons (Sue, David Rivera, Capodilupo, Lin, & Torino, 2010; Powell, Branscombe, & Schmitt, 2005). McClelland and Linnander (2006) found that interpersonal contact is an important factor in changing racial attitudes among White counseling trainees. The current study sought to examine white female counseling trainees’ written reflections following a personal one-on-one dialogue with culturally different interviewees. Seventeen graduate counseling trainees who self-identified as White and were enrolled in a moderate sized university in the southeastern United States during the years 2003-2008, were participants. Their ages ranged from 23-45, with a mean of 29.94. Using constructivist theory as research paradigm and consensual qualitative research analysis as methodology, the 4 domains analyzed were: a) counseling trainees’ acknowledgement that their Whiteness was “limiting” and resulted in their personal biases, b) counseling trainees’ awareness of the fact that White privilege and racism are experienced differently depending on other social group memberships one holds, including gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status, c) a heightened awareness of their emotional responses in the interview context such as shock, denial of racism, sadness, guilt associated with being White and privileged, sympathy for what their interviewees have experienced, gratitude for their interviewees’ openness, and amazement of their life stories, and d) owning White Privilege coincided with a heightened sense of resolve to be multiculturally competent.

5 thoughts on “Visibility of Whiteness: Analyzing White Privilege among Female Counseling Trainees”

  1. Dr. Tes Tuason

    Very impressive! Project of Merit!!! I would like to take this chance to let you know how thrilled I am to be working with you on research. I deeply appreciate your handwork, resilience, reliability, creativity, and initiative. I am so proud of you!!! Let us get this paper submitted!

  2. Kassie Terrell

    This is a great study! I love reading the clips of qualitative data. So powerful. Congrats on earning a Project of Merit badge!

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