Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Racism, Whites-Race identity, Anti-racism, Whiteness, Racial identity


This qualitative study explores how White therapists who identify as anti-racist address race, racism, and racial identity with white clients from an anti-racist perspective. Twelve White therapists were interviewed and asked what anti-racism means to them, how they have responded to racism with white clients, and how they attempt to incorporate anti-racism values into their lives and therapy practices. The therapists were also asked how they were trained to address these issues in their psychology, social work, and counseling programs, and their use of the racial identity of their white clients to improve therapeutic outcomes was discussed. Most of the therapists described their anti-racist efforts as focused on interpersonal rather than institutional racism, which is contrary to the premises of anti-racist practice. Racism was evident in their decisions regarding if and when to address race and racism with white clients, and the rationales these decisions were based on. Many rarely addressed explicit racist comments made by their clients at all, and none used the identity of their white clients to improve therapeutic outcomes. The findings revealed that while the majority of the anti-racist identified white therapists interviewed here have made some minimal attempts to incorporate anti-racism into their therapeutic interactions, the practices they reported were often more consistent with colorblindness than antiracism. While a few of their training programs addressed racism, none addressed how to incorporate white racial identity into work with white clients. The implications of these findings for practicing therapists and therapists in training are discussed.




iii, 187 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2012. Includes bibliographical references (p. 169-177)