Counselors are not Colorblind

by elodiegerard on November 13, 2016 - 3:55pm


            Research has shown that White counselors have a certain racial bias agaisnt clients of colour, they show less compassion so their role as counselors are affected because it makes the client believe that they are not important. Tina Paone, Krista Malott and Jason Barr are scholars that have conducted a study on a length of five years in order to see if they were able to reduce racial bias with White counselors by making them take race-based classes during their training. The participants chosen by Paone, Malott and Barr for the study were 121 White students at the master’s level studying to become counselors. The main goals that the researchers wanted to obtain with their study were to make the participants aware of: the effect of racism, the privileges that they have as White individuals, racial discrimination and privilege and finally make them understand better their racial identity. After the authors have analyzed all the data that they had collected, they were able to confirm all their hypotheses but also they made interesting findings. Many started to feel guilty about the cost of racism, however, there was not a lot of change for their fear and empathy towards it. Further, many started to feel anxious about the way they would eliminate their racial privileges during a session with someone from another “race” because many did not know that they had privileges. Another important outcome of that study is that many started to be aware of racial discrimination and started to be more concerned about it. Moreover, students had an anti-racist attitude by the end of the course. The authors also noticed that White men were less likely to acknowledge their racial privileges because not only they have their privileges due to their race but also because of their gender. In other words, it is harder for them to “give away” their racial privileges unlike women because they are used to have all the privileges that a White man has in society. Tina, Krista and Jason came to the conclusion that it was extremely important to include race-based courses in the training for counselors because it has many positive outcomes. Thus, it gives tools to White counselors on how to acknowledge their privileges and how to answer to the needs of their clients in the best way possible no matter what race they are.



            After reading the study “Assessing the Impact of a Race-Based Course on Counselling Students: A Quantitative Study” by Tina Paone, Krista Malott and Jason Barr I was really surprised to see the number of White counselors that were racists. This study demonstrates very well the importance of talking about White privileges and racial discrimination because only after one race-based course, counseling students were more aware and concern about the issues. It shows how White people, in general, are not thought about their privileges therefore they are less likely to care about racial discrimination because they are not affected by it. As we saw in class, children develop racial prejudices at a very young age so if they would be taught by their parents and teachers about white privileges and how race is only a social construct, society would not be facing these kinds of problems about racial discrimination. However, the study was lacking evidences for some points/facts that they were claiming. For example, the authors wrote that White counselors are not neutral when they have clients of colour but I find that without a statistic, it is generalizing by saying that all White counselors are racists. Another example is that they came to the conclusion that men were less able to feel empathy than women but on 121 participants there were only 14 men so once again, I find that they do not have enough data to say that all men have less empathy.




Paone, T. R., Malott, K. M., & Barr, J. J. (2015). Assessing the Impact of a Race-Based Course on Counseling Students: A Quantitative Study. Journal Of Multicultural Counseling & Development43(3), 206-220. doi:10.1002/jmcd.12015

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