Racial Dialogues and White Trainee Fears: Implications for Education and Training


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

To assist educators in detecting the occurrence, understanding the dynamics, and effectively facilitating a difficult dialogue on race, we conducted a qualitative study to systematically examine the perceptions, interpretations, and reactions of 14 White trainees in counseling psychology graduate classes. In our focus groups, we identified 3 major domains: (a) global perspectives associated with race and racial dialogue, (b) specific reactions to racial disclosures, and (c) classroom strategies or conditions that proved helpful and unhelpful in facilitating dialogues. Participants appeared to have difficulty understanding how and why difficult dialogues on race occur. In addition, preexisting attitudes/beliefs/feelings seemed to serve as major barriers to discussing race honestly and openly. They reported powerful feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and fear of being misunderstood that evoked defensive maneuvers to avoid race topics. Implications for education and training are discussed.

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