“I think it's quite an insulting question, ‘what’s it like to be white?’... It's not a question that needs to be asked”: An exploration of how white trainee counsellors in South Wales understand ‘race’, racism, and whiteness.

Smith, Ruth Kate (2021) “I think it's quite an insulting question, ‘what’s it like to be white?’... It's not a question that needs to be asked”: An exploration of how white trainee counsellors in South Wales understand ‘race’, racism, and whiteness. Doctoral thesis, University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

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Abstract

This research sought to understand how white trainee counsellors in South Wales understand ‘race’, racism and whiteness. Research that considers understanding of ‘race’, racism and whiteness in a counselling context in South Wales has not been found elsewhere and addresses a gap in knowledge. The literature review found that white people were unaware of having a ‘race’ and that ‘race’ is an overlooked aspect of counselling pedagogy and practice. The research was undertaken in a Welsh Further Education college with 16 first-year, white trainee counsellors. Using a post-critical ethnographic approach, this research used the method of participant-observation which included document analysis and semi-structured interviews. Post-critical ethnography requires researcher reflexivity, therefore critical personal reflections are woven throughout the thesis. The theoretical position was further underpinned by using critical whiteness studies as the primary theoretical lens to contextualise the research findings into wider academic discourse about ‘race’, racism and whiteness. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the findings and four themes were identified: (Mis)Understanding ‘Race’ and Racism; White (Un)Awareness; Barriers to Racial Discourse and Socio-political (Dis)Connection. The empirical findings of this research has allowed two original theoretical contributions to knowledge to be made. The first contribution, ‘White Ignorance Disruption’, builds on the concept of ‘White Ignorance’ (the wilful not knowing about ‘race’) and is used to describe the unformed moments between white ignorance and cognitive and emotional responses. ‘White Ignorance Disruption’ has been conceptualised as a theoretical bridge which can connect white ignorance to other theories of whiteness. The second contribution is the concept of the ‘Good White Counsellor’ which is used to describe a white counsellor who iv understands themselves as a ‘good’ person and misguidedly uses colour-blind ideology to demonstrate their ‘goodness’ and express their belief in equality. This research recommends the explicit incorporation of ‘race’, racism and whiteness into counselling curricula and policy to overcome the systemic colour-blind racism identified in this research.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Lesley Cresswell
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2021 08:37
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2021 08:37
URI: https://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/1786

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