Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


African American social workers, Social work with African Americans, Therapist and patient, Oppression (Psychology), Therapeutic alliance, Racism-United States, Aggressiveness, Micro-aggression(s), African American clinicians, Same race client and clinician, Colorism, Anti-racism, Anti-oppression, Internalized racism, Racial countertransference


In this qualitative study the experiences of African American clinicians working with African American clients regarding racial micro-aggressions that occur both in and outside the clinical dyad are explored. Twelve African American clinicians participated in structured interviews for the purposes of exploring their experiences talking about race and racism when working with same race clients. Participants worked in a variety of clinical settings but all provided individual therapy to African American clients. Participants reported that they allowed their clients to guide discussions pertaining to the issue of micro-aggressions. Clinicians felt that "race talk" bears critical importance on the therapeutic alliance and that when utilized can deepen the alliance as well as expose other equally immobilizing dynamics in the client's life. For the most part clinicians felt little anxiety about "race talk". majority of participants felt that more research on and developing a framework for having such conversations would be of benefit for same race treatment relationships. A majority also reported that they all made certain to remain in constant attendance to issues of boundary maintenance. Clinicians believed that a framework would both give permission to a deeply important issue as well as provide insight as to the best practices for facilitating effective race attentive work with clients of color.




iii, 44 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 34-37)