Racial Identity, White Counsellors and Therapists

By Gill Tuckwell | Go to book overview

Postscript

During the course of this book, I have argued that racial identity is an integral part of the self that is strongly influenced by historical events and relationships between black people and white people over the centuries. Recognizing that white people have traditionally not identified themselves as racial beings, I have challenged white therapists to engage in a process of self-reflection, and to be courageous in examining personal experiences and responses to race. This focus on self may be deeply uncomfortable since it has the capacity to uncover underlying racial attitudes and assumptions that may be at odds with consciously held beliefs. However, the willingness to explore difficult and unresolved issues lies at the heart of our work as therapists. Often, we encourage our clients to confront the source of their fear and distress in the belief that this enhances the possibility of change and healing. This process applies equally to ourselves in the complex arena of racial dynamics.

The personal risks and dangers inherent in exploring and owning our racial attitudes are also matched by the potential to reap great rewards. For the practitioner, this seemingly inward-looking process has implications at a personal and professional level. As we relinquish the safety of our insular position based on false notions of white superiority, we are exposed to a wider view of the world, and the possibility of more realistic and meaningful interactions with others. This, in turn, increases our understanding and competence in providing relevant therapeutic services for a diverse client group in the twenty-first century.

It is my hope that this book will encourage practitioners to want to extend their personal and professional horizons, and to commit themselves to furthering their understanding of racial identity issues. This is inevitably a gradual and life-changing process that is both demanding and enriching. Whatever stage has been reached, I strongly urge practitioners to venture out on this journey of discovery and growth.

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