Make It Personal: A Qualitative Investigation of White Counselors' Multicultural Awareness Development

Shawna L. Atkins, Marilyn R. Fitzpatrick, Gauthamie Poolokasingham, Mariane Lebeau, Lisa Spanierman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


In this qualitative research study, we explored the multicultural awareness development of 12 multiculturally adept non-Latino White counselors. Using a grounded theory approach, we found that early personal experience with diversity was the most important contributing factor in developing understanding and empathy for oppression among White counselors. This factor appeared to lay the foundation for an ongoing personal initiative to develop multicultural awareness. Subsequently, counselors tried to maximize what they could learn from their culturally diverse clients, work environments, coursework, supervision, and mentoring opportunities. Their personal initiative also inspired them to persevere despite the difficult emotions and conflict inherent in this developmental process. Results suggest the need to incorporate personally transformative experiences in counselor training and to prepare counselors for the emotional challenges of multicultural awareness development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)669-696
Number of pages28
JournalCounseling Psychologist
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • counseling
  • diversity
  • multicultural awareness
  • multicultural counseling competence
  • oppression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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