The authors in this qualitative study explored how White counselors define and experience privilege and oppression. Specifically, 2 research questions were addressed in semistructured interviews with 8 counselors: How do White counselors conceptualize privilege and oppression as separate but related constructs? and What experiences do White counselors generally describe concerning privilege and oppression? The authors present a research model that represents the factors that contribute to changes in the conceptualization and awareness of privilege and oppression and the way that these changes come about. Implications for counselor training are discussed.
There is a need for additional literature concerning privilege and oppression as related to counseling. Most of the literature that has explored these constructs is conceptual and primarily defines and highlights their significance in areas outside of counseling (e.g., Bohmer & Briggs, 1991; Davidson, Davidson, & Crain, 2000-2001; Frye, 1983; Lucal, 1996; McIntosh, 1988; Sanders, 1999; Vodde, 2001). Existing empirical research related to counseling concentrates on the relationship between privilege and oppression and multicultural counseling competency (e.g., Constantine, 2002; Constantine, Juby, & Liang, 2001; Pope-Davis & Ottavi, 1994) and further clarifies characteristics, dimensions, levels of awareness, and emotional responses to these constructs (e.g., Ancis & Szymanski, 2001; Arminio, 2001; Croteau, Talbot, Lance, & Evans, 2002; D'Andrea & Daniels, 1999; Frankenberg, 1993; Garcia & Van Soest, 1997; Manuppelli, 2000; Swim & Miller, 1999). Hence, the majority of counseling research focuses on a connection between these constructs and multicultural counseling competency as well as the reactions of counselors to privilege and oppression. To date, there has been no research that examines how counselors conceptualize privilege and oppression and relate them to personal experience.
Sue, Arredondo, and McDavis (1992) described a culturally skilled counselor as one who values and focuses on self-awareness and possesses knowledge of various types of oppression. "Culturally skilled counselors possess knowledge and understanding about how oppression, racism, discrimination, and stereotyping affect them personally and in their work ... have knowledge about sociopolitical influences that impinge on the life of racial and ethnic minorities" (Sue et al., 1992, p. 482). Counselor self-awareness is the building block for multicultural competency (Brinson, 1996), yet there is limited research that has examined counselor self-awareness of privilege and oppression.
McIntosh (1988) articulated everyday conditions of White privilege, thereby stimulating research and theory on this construct. For instance, researchers (Ancis & Szymanski, 2001; D'Andrea & Daniels, 1999; Manuppelli, 2000) have found that White counselors respond to privilege and oppression with varying levels of awareness. Depending on their level of awareness, White counselors report anger, guilt, confusion, defensiveness, sadness, and a sense of responsibility and need for advocacy when discussing these topics (Ancis & Szymanski, 2001; Arminio, 2001; Swim & Miller, 1999). Negative responses to discussions regarding these constructs may be indicative of White counselors' lack of awareness of privilege and oppression and could lead to resistance to learning about racism and other types of oppression (Swim & Miller, 1999). Because Whiteness remains invisible to Whites, they look at racial discrimination with detachment and feel little responsibility for changing the status quo (Kiselica, 1998). Although discussions of these constructs may create strong emotions, they are helpful in increasing trainees' awareness of advocacy, oppression, and cultural identity (Garcia & Van Soest, 1997; Kiselica, 1998).
White counselors' awareness of their personal privilege, derived from acknowledging oppressive beliefs and attitudes as well as acknowledging how they may have benefited from those attitudes, could be an important step toward multicultural competency (Ancis & Szymanski, 2001). In addition, because counselors and clients bring to the session their personal meanings, laden with historical experiences of privilege and oppression, it is imperative for counselors to address these issues to avoid unethical practice (Sue et al., 1992). In sum, exploration and understanding of how White counselors conceptualize and respond to these constructs in their personal and professional lives are warranted. To facilitate multicultural counseling competency, the use of qualitative methodology to examine White counselors' personal experiences and the impact of these experiences on the counseling relationship is needed (Richardson & Molinaro, 1996).
The purpose of this study was to explore White counselors' conceptualizations of privilege and oppression and which personal experiences and reactions are connected to the constructs. Specifically, the following research questions are addressed: How do White counselors conceptualize privilege and oppression as separate but related constructs? and What experiences do White counselors generally describe concerning privilege and oppression?
We used purposive sampling procedures (Patton, 1990) to recruit participants who had knowledge about diverse personal and client identities and multicultural issues in general. Individuals who self-identified as White, who held at least a master's degree in counseling, and who were currently practicing in a counseling setting were invited to participate. Participants were recruited from doctoral programs at a large southeastern university; at the time, they were working in a university counseling center or a private practice setting. Those who met the requirements that have been outlined and expressed interest in discussing multicultural issues were interviewed. The participants in this study were 8 White counselors who represented diverse cultural groups in age (ranging from 25 to 43 years, M = 32), gender (5 women, 3 men), sexual orientation (heterosexual, lesbian), and religious/spiritual affiliation (2 Christian, 2 Jewish, 2 spiritual/ no religious affiliation, 2 atheist). Although participants had originally come from the northeastern, midwestern, and southern regions of the United States, the majority had resided in the southern United States for more than 5 years; thus, the participants were immersed in and familiar with Southern values and worldviews. The participants had an average of 5.6 years of counseling experience working with culturally diverse populations and client concerns (e.g., trauma, addiction, anxiety, depression, career issues). They held a variety of certificates and licenses, including Licensed Professional Counselor (n = 2), National Certified Counselor (n = 6), Certified Rehabilitation Counselor (n = 1), and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (n = 1). (Some participants held more than one certification.) Informed consent was obtained from each participant. Participants received gift certificates for their time and extensive involvement in the interviewing and member checking processes.
Because researchers inevitably influence data collection and analytic processes (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), it is imperative to discuss the researchers' characteristics. The research team consisted of two doctoral students (the first and third authors) and a faculty member (the second author). All of us primarily subscribed to postmodernist views, including social constructivist, narrative, and feminist approaches to understanding and conceptualizing attitudes and behaviors. We had prior research experience in qualitative design and multicultural competency training. In addition, we had experience in research and practice involving diversity concerns and attitudes. We held two assumptions about the conceptualization of privilege and oppression: (a) White counselors' definitions and responses are based on meanings from a personal context, and (b) due to the invisible nature of privilege, White counselors may have difficulty defining these constructs as well as identifying personal examples of privilege.
The primary researcher (the first author) is a doctoral student in a counselor education program in the southeastern United States. Culturally, the researcher is a White heterosexual woman from a working-class background in the southern United States. Because the participants were peers who were recruited from doctoral programs that were housed in the same department as the researcher, additional steps, outlined later in the article, were taken throughout the data collection and analyses to minimize bias.
Data Collection and Analysis
Participant demographic sheet. Each participant completed a demographic sheet that requested information regarding his or her cultural identity (e.g., age, gender, sexual orientation, religious/ spiritual affiliation). In addition, participants provided information regarding their counseling experiences, their perceptions of multicultural course work in course areas recommended by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, various extracurricular multicultural training experiences, and training suggestions.
Semistructured interviews. The primary researcher conducted, audiotaped, and transcribed 13 (8 initial and 5 follow-up) individual interviews that averaged 45 to 60 minutes in length. To minimize bias, the interview questions were reviewed and revised through a peer debriefing process that involved a faculty member and eight doctoral students familiar with qualitative methodology but not involved in the research study. During the initial interview, participants responded to 12 structured questions that explored their conceptualization of privilege and oppression (e.g., definitions, group memberships, personal experiences), the relationship between privilege and oppression and counseling practice, and suggestions for clinical and academic training concerning these concepts. These questions were developed to correspond with the previously mentioned research questions; as mentioned earlier, the research questions address unanswered questions from prior literature. We collaboratively developed interview questions that clearly addressed the questions that guided our research.
The primary researcher developed additional interview questions from preliminary data analysis; these questions were presented to members of the peer debriefing group to address researcher biases and assumptions. The primary researcher also conducted a second interview with 5 of the 8 participants individually to expand and clarify the data from the first interview. After this second round of interviews, we concluded that the data were saturated (i.e., data were fully represented by the themes and there were no new data to refute the findings). All the transcripts were reviewed for accuracy, and a majority of participants provided feedback for member checking (Lincoln & Guba, 1985) that included reactions to the interview content and process, confirmation that their responses were accurate, and further elaboration through use of examples, as needed.
Each of us independently examined the interviews for preliminary themes related to each participant's conceptualization of privilege and oppression and the connection of the conceptualization to personal and professional experiences. We used open coding as part of an inductive process (Miles & Huberman, 1994) to develop primary themes. Using constant comparative methodology (Strauss & Corbin, 1990), we reached agreement through a series of several meetings on the preliminary themes after each interview was coded and contrasted with previously coded interviews. Each of us independently examined the codes to ensure that the listed themes were comprehensive. Further restructuring of the themes--pattern coding (Miles & Huberman, 1994)--resulted from this triangulation process (Lincoln & Guba, 1985), and a final list of themes that addressed the aforementioned research questions was developed.
We developed a research model (see Figure 1) based on themes pertaining to the conceptualization of privilege and oppression. Three interviews that had been collected at various points of data analysis and had not yet been analyzed were used to test the research model and research questions to ensure that there were no additional themes or paths in the model. These interviews were from three individuals whose data were not used for structuring the themes. In addition, final data analysis and model conceptualization were presented to the aforementioned peer debriefing group to ensure clarity and accuracy. We made adjustments to the analyses and model based on suggestions from this group.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
We developed a model (see Figure 1) from the data that describes how an individual's conceptualization of privilege and oppression is acquired and what factors contribute to changes in his or her level of awareness of these concepts. The process of awareness development is cyclical and is influenced by the sociopolitical milieu of the individual; systemic forces intervene at various points in the model and may include cohort effects (e.g., current political and social occurrences) and historical influences (e.g., slavery and immigration). An individual's conceptualization occurs in response to his or her perception of various external influences throughout his or her experiences.
Research Question 1: How Do White Counselors Conceptualize Privilege and Oppression as Separate but Related Constructs?
Participants defined privilege as having power, access, advantage, and a majority status. Power was defined as having control, choice, autonomy, and authority or influence over others. "Privilege has a lot to do with power, and having the ability to take power or share it." Privilege as access related to having money, opportunities, and/or material possessions; one participant stated that "people who are at a higher SES [socioeconomic status] level typically have more opportunities to go to college to better themselves that other people wouldn't have." Another participant stated, "Caucasians as a whole have more wealth and opportunity and structure institutions in such a way that they are comfortable with. Other groups have to work around things that don't make sense to them." Privilege as advantage was related to having connections, favorable treatment, entitlement, social support, or a lack of concern for others. "Privilege is basically having the world be unfair in your advantage." Positive attribution is an example of advantage that was given by a majority of the participants; it is related to ability and personality factors and avoidance of negative stereotypes and is described as an unearned birthright. Majority status as a characteristic of privilege involved "being the majority in number, social standing, and/or social norms, defining who's in or who's out ... it gives you power to define how the world is." One participant stated, "I am part of the majority being that I am White. I don't buy into the whole 'you get things because you're White,' but I think there is an element in that I am usually in the majority."
Participants defined oppression as having characteristics that are the opposite of the characteristics of privilege (i.e., lacking power, access, and advantage and having a minority status). Lacking power was defined as lacking control and choice, not having a voice or representation, and holding people down or back. "Oppression is a force that keeps people from self-determination. It keeps people from sharing power, sharing goods, and being able to take part in opportunity, and wealth." Another participant stated, "[V]oices are not being heard and needs are not always being met or addressed." Oppression was also defined as lacking access to money, opportunities, and material possessions. Lack of advantage was related to being exploited or taken advantage of, not entitled, targeted (e.g., biased, disenfranchised, abused), experiencing roadblocks and having a difficult situation imposed, experiencing negative attributions (e.g., prejudice, discrimination, devaluation, and stereotypes), and lacking support (e.g., struggling to have basic needs met, having fear). One participant described this as "being imposed upon, being exploited, having to struggle to get your basic needs met, and not having the freedoms that others enjoy." Oppression also involved being the minority status in number, outside the norm, and/or lacking a sense of belonging and experiencing limited assimilation.
The participants reported that there was an inverse relationship between privilege and oppression:
If you are going to give more to someone else, then invariably you have to give less to someone else. And so by the nature of taking away from others, you are giving more to a group. Those who are privileged oppress those who don't have privilege.
Another participant asserted, "[I]t's like two extremes on a continuum. Both [privileged and oppressed groups] actually play a role in [distribution of power]. Certainly there's more power from the privileged group in setting up these messages."
As indicated in the model, conceptualization of privilege and oppression refers to how an individual defines and views these concepts at various social levels. An individual defines privilege and oppression using four dimensions--power, access, advantage, and status--with privilege and oppression inversely related along these dimensions. There is some compromise between groups, resulting in differential levels of each dimension for individuals of privileged and oppressed statuses. Conceptualization of privilege and oppression is based on experiences; these experiences occur in a social context and are influenced by the statuses of individuals within a social setting. These constructs exist on a continuum, and status is linked with an individual's group membership according to race/ethnicity, SES, religion, sexual orientation, and/or disability or ability. Because an individual has multiple group memberships, there exists a possibility of being both oppressed and privileged. An individual's conceptualization may be either facilitated or hindered by his or her combination of privileged and oppressed statuses, with oppressed statuses increasing the likelihood of developing an awareness of both privilege and oppression and with privileged statuses decreasing the likelihood of developing comprehensive conceptualizations of these constructs.
The model demonstrates that an individual's conceptualization of privilege and oppression is reciprocally related to external influence. It is affected by and affects societal institutions of government, religion, media, industry, education, and family. An individual's experiences and views of these concepts rely on what messages are presented in society and family. Participants perceived that in the media,
your only role models that you see out there are White men ... there are different ideas of what you can grow up to be. People in the majority see that there are all these things that you can grow up to be, whereas others can't do that.
Another participant stated, "media is so powerful ... some of the messages or stereotypes are pretty damaging, even if they are positive stereotypes. If you have access to media you have access to perpetuate the messages that will keep you privileged."
Participants believed that government primarily represented the decisions of those in the majority. "When you look at who is in government and determining policy that is affecting my life and other people's lives, that it's White men that have all the power." Industry, an institution that includes both business and professional arenas, is shaped by privilege and oppression. Specifically, participants acknowledged, "the majority of high level executives are White." In addition, participants highlighted the oppressive experiences of lesbian, gay male, and bisexual male and female persons (e.g., domestic partnerships not being recognized and difficulty in obtaining a job). The majority of participants recognized Christianity as privileged and supported in society. "We live in a Christian society. Christianity has a history of being the only way."
Internalization of societal and familial messages occurs. Internalization involves the integration of these messages and the individual's perception of these messages and his or her experiences. These messages serve as a filter for further development of awareness. Participants believed that awareness of privilege and oppression developed in childhood and that messages from various societal institutions were subsequently internalized. Participants acknowledged that their personal privilege was partly a result of early socialization.
My parents raised me to think I could do anything ... they were able to move us to a better neighborhood, go to better schools.... I never had to worry about where my next meal was going to come from. My parents were very supportive of me ... emotionally and developmentally I was privileged. I am White so I think that that gave me a lot of privilege.
Participants acknowledged that individuals who were members of oppressed statuses also internalized societal messages. As a participant articulated, "there are still so many people that are oppressed that don't see it. I think that's part of the system, to create a system that you keep people bound in such a way that they don't try to rise up against you."
Most participants had difficulty conceptualizing privilege and oppression; specifically, they would question whether certain instances were examples of privilege and oppression. For example, the majority of participants expressed, "[I]t's something you have in your head ... It's hard when you see it to put words to it." Some participants had difficulty teasing out if certain things in society were actually a result of oppression.
It's hard for me to separate oppression because there may not be many minority people that are as qualified because it's a minority group. You know, by definition you're going to have more White people that, or White men, probably who are more qualified because there are more of them. So maybe it's representative of the population.
Research Question 2: What Personal Experiences Do White Counselors Generally Describe Concerning Privilege and Oppression?
The participants perceived that privilege and oppression both occur and are evaluated in a social context. Race was the most salient example of privilege, because "race is a clear demarcation between groups. It's easy to say, 'well there's a difference'.... It's more visible." Participants perceived differences in power as a result of having more than someone else, either situational and based on a particular context (e.g., "Every group is privileged in relation to some other group") or hierarchical in nature (e.g., "Some groups are more oppressed than others"). Participants stated that there were different levels of privilege and oppression within and between cultural groups based on a combination of statuses and differential levels of SES, gender, and locale in a particular group. In addition, participants viewed privilege as permanent and oppression as temporary and capable of changing over time.
A majority of the participants had some awareness of their own privilege, although only a few were able to provide examples of daily personal privileges. They identified privileged groups to which they belonged (i.e. White, high SES) that were identified in general society as privileged. The primary oppressed groups referenced by participants were racial minorities, women, and individuals with low SES. In addition, participants asserted that their level of awareness of privilege and oppression had increased throughout their lifetimes as a result of external influences. As one participant stated, "I think throughout my development and life experiences I have seen more and more ways that I am privileged and oppressed and the subtleties there." They had a sense of comfort with their privileged statuses and admitted feeling lucky that they were privileged. They also disclosed it was easy to forget that they had privilege.
It's very easy for someone, whether they know it or not, for someone privileged to be oppressive. I am a White middle-class, heterosexual male. I have to work really hard to understand where I am in this diverse society. How other people view me, or how I subconsciously or automatically view them because they might be different from me. So, it's real easy for me to blend in and just live this life I pretty much have been bred for.
Although there were benefits of being a member of a privileged group, the participants struggled intrapersonally with privilege (i.e., had difficulty dealing with their own privilege). As one participant reflected, "I have racist tendencies ... it's just ingrained in me because of the background I grew up in.... That's oppressive to be that way when I don't want to be. I don't want to be an oppressor." Feelings such as helplessness, frustration/anger, sadness, anxiety, guilt/shame, and a sense of unfairness accompanied this internal conflict. Many of these feelings are consistent with those that have been expressed in previous literature (e.g., Ancis & Szymanski, 2001). The participants who were aware of privilege and oppression made some attempt to dismantle privilege in general society, yet were unsure if general society was capable of change. For example, a participant asserted, "I don't know how much effective change can be done in one person's lifetime. I don't know about our society as a whole changing."
Participants who lacked awareness of privilege (i.e., had difficulty seeing their own privilege) responded to others' oppressed experiences with the myth of meritocracy (e.g.. "You can't say that rich people are privileged because some of them have worked really hard for what they have" and "People should be compared as to what are your skills"), reverse discrimination (e.g., "We are oppressed in the sense that we are required to include everybody"), and denial (e.g., "I have heard people say, 'if you're White you can get away with a lot more.' That may be true, I don't know"). One participant stated, "[I]t makes me angry when people would suggest that I didn't work hard or that they are not able to appreciate things I had to overcome in order to achieve the things I have."
Participants who lacked awareness focused particularly on exceptions that minimized their personal privilege and attributed differential treatment to other factors beyond oppression, consistent with the findings in prior research (Ancis & Szymanski, 2001). For example, some participants viewed their privileged statuses as being the perception of others rather than what was real. "Someone in a different ethnic group may perceive me to be privileged simply because I am White. I don't see it as necessarily a privilege but I recognize that somebody else would." In addition, unawareness of privilege was primarily related to the invisible nature of privilege. "It's hard to see. It's a lot easier to see when you are not getting something than when you are." The participants who lacked awareness of oppression were ambivalent and denied at times its existence. They were involved in stereotypical attitudes. For example, a participant stated, "a lot of times there are groups of people who would say that they were oppressed. It would be hard for someone outside the group to be able to identify it or recognize it because they have a different perception." Another participant stated, "you can interview minorities all you want to, if they feel oppressed, you can't not honor that perception but I don't know if it's always completely accurate."
Some participants admitted that it was difficult identifying and discussing their experiences that were related to their membership in oppressed groups because of their salient privileged statuses. This is consistent with prior research (Croteau et al., 2002), in that the value and salience of a particular status may influence the value or recognition of another status. "It's hard for me to say that by having doors closed on me that that's being oppressed. Because I feel like I am in such a position of privilege." Some participants believed that personal oppression was beneficial in certain settings; it can be used at times to increase their awareness of privilege.
Visibility and perception are two important components of the internalization and awareness processes. Visibility, or visible evidence of a privileged or oppressed status, is an integral part of perception. Perception is related to others' perceptions as well as self-perception. Others' perceptions refer to how the external world treats or reacts to the individual based on the visibility of one's status. Self-perception refers to how an individual views his or her own status; it is not necessarily congruent with others' perceptions. There is some compromise within the individual as he or she attempts to make sense of potentially conflicting perceptions. The less visible an oppressed status is, the more opportunity an individual has to "pass" as a member of the majority status. Perception directly influences the cycle of awareness of privilege and oppression.
Participants primarily discussed experiences of oppression that were related to being a member of privileged statuses, but not experiences of oppression related to membership in minority groups. This finding is consistent with prior research (Dean, Chang, & Hays, 2003). They had discomfort with their minority or oppressed statuses; related feelings included insecurity, defensiveness, powerlessness, and justification. They also felt lucky when their oppressed status was invisible, and they did not disclose to avoid or limit experiences of oppression (e.g., "I did start doing things like not disclosing my religious practices. And even as an adult I continue to do that"). Their awareness originated, at times, from experiences in minority statuses.
I think I was always aware of who I was, as far as not being a part of the mainstream culture, this is going to sound terrible, but I remember when I was 6 years old, that there were two bad things to be, one was Black and one was Jewish, and I was so glad I was Jewish because it wasn't so obvious.
In addition, participants who identified membership with both oppressive and oppressed groups displayed negative emotions about belonging to different statuses.
It's kind of a feeling of like half belonging, which is almost worse than not belonging because you are not sure where you fit in ... it's hard to be comfortable with both the mainstream culture and your cultural identity.
The model demonstrates that unawareness-awareness is an awareness continuum that is influenced by the aforementioned variables. An individual's location on the continuum further influences his or her conceptualization of privilege and oppression. As mentioned earlier, an individual's awareness changes over time, depending on external influences and internalization of various messages; therefore, his or her location on the awareness continuum will change throughout his or her personal development. Moreover, visibility is related to awareness in that the more visible an individual's status is to the external world, the more awareness an individual has regarding that status. The exception is Whiteness; even though it is visible and viewed as privileged by outsiders, it remains largely invisible to those who are White (McIntosh, 1988). This invisibility results in unawareness and is manifested in the myth of meritocracy, reverse discrimination, and denial (McIntosh, 1988). Perception is an important piece in that the less an individual perceives his or her primary status as privileged or oppressed, the less likely he or she will be aware of these concepts and, thus, will have difficulty conceptualizing them. Characteristics of unawareness as related to perception may be viewing one's own privileged or oppressed status as simply others' perceptions versus a "real" phenomenon or viewing others' oppressed statuses as a perception only, discounting the hardships faced as a result of being oppressed.
The participants described an inverse relationship between privilege and oppression, with the relationship manifested differently in various contexts (e.g., increased oppression for some ethnic minorities during wartime; recognition of personal oppression, especially when a minority in number). Participants described external influences as confirming and/or changing their attitudes toward definitions of privilege and oppression; several participants discussed ways that the internalized messages were either internalized domination or oppression. Visibility was a filter for others' perceptions and self-perceptions in that some participants felt compelled to hide part of their identity. As participants were able to identify a visible cultural variable (e.g., race, gender) as either privileged or oppressed, they developed differential levels of awareness throughout life experiences. As mentioned earlier, participants had difficulty conceptualizing privilege and oppression; depending on the level of awareness, there was also difficulty in discussing personal examples of daily privileges. A majority of the participants acknowledged the existence of an internalization process; it seems that counselors can conceptualize the connection among social status, external influences, and perception. Approaching the topics of privilege and oppression in counselor training by addressing the internalization process can be helpful.
Because the social context plays a significant role in the conceptualization process for counselors, it is imperative that counselor educators and supervisors address the various types of external influences and facilitate discussions about cultural identity, stereotypes, and self-awareness. Counselor educators and supervisors could increase the use of guest speakers, reading assignments, and videos to facilitate a positive learning experience for trainees. As educators make oppression and privilege more open topics in their instruction, there may be an impact on counselor trainees' awareness of these constructs.
External factors (e.g., media, family, government) can have an impact on work with clients. Counselors must be aware of how a particular social context, influenced by various institutions, can affect the therapeutic relationship. For instance, traditional gender role socialization as a result of external messages regarding institutional practices (e.g., family, industry) can create therapeutic distance. Another example may be the lack of trust that African American clients have in White counselors because of historical influences of slavery and contemporary racism. Counselor educators and supervisors should address how the therapeutic relationship can be affected by privilege and oppression.
There are some limitations to this study. First, the research model was derived from the responses of White counselors; it should be tested with other racial groups to ensure its applicability. Second, although steps were taken to ensure saturation of the data, results of this study have limited generalizability. Data were collected from participants living and working in the southern United States and may not represent the perceptions of those outside this region. Lastly, participants were peers of the primary researcher, so there is some question if their responses were fully representative of their attitudes about privilege and oppression. Although considerable steps were taken to minimize bias, some participants may have been cautious about how much of their reactions to the topic they shared. Fortunately, the research questions were designed to obtain participants' definitions and personal experiences rather than personal attitudes about privilege and oppression in general.
Further research is needed now that there is some empirical formulation of how awareness of privilege and oppression is developed in an individual. Various sections of the model can be used as starting points for discussion of privilege and oppression as they relate to counseling. This may lead to a clearer understanding of and method for intervention regarding the power differential between counselor and client and between counselor educator and trainee. The research design should be replicated with racially diverse counselors as well as with various types of practitioners to explore similarities and differences in ways they conceptualize privilege and oppression and the ways that their conceptualizations apply to clinical and academic experiences.
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Danica G. Hays. Catherine Y. Chang, and Jennifer K. Dean. Department of Counseling and Psychological Services. Georgia State University. This project was funded by a research grant from the Southern Association of Counselor Education and Supervision. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Danica G. Hays, MSC 6A0915, Georgia State University, 33 Gilmer Street SE, Unit 6, Atlanta. GA 30303-3086 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).…