This study aims to explore an important and critical psychological effect of Racism; Internalized Racism in Blackness. Internalised racism is an unconscious defence mechanism against painful racial experiences, producing self-abasing thoughts and behaviour with the desire to gain acceptance in a majority white society.
Research on Internalized Racism is scarce, especially in the UK. Black counsellors and trainees feel they have little support or space to explore issues relating to Blackness. The research question aims to examine conscious and unconscious processes of Internalized Racism in Black therapists, which might inhibit our work and use of supervision.
The study seeks to create an ongoing dialogue between Black and White Counsellors, Supervisors and Trainers, raising the importance of race within the context of the therapeutic relationship as a means to explore unconscious trauma, pain and devaluing messages that Black people may encounter daily.
Many trainers are ignorant of the existence of internalized racism. Being responsible in clinical practice includes challenging our own unconscious biases, assumptions and prejudices; this is crucial when working with race in clinical practice.
Black and White therapists, supervisors and trainees must actively seek out and interrogate their racial positioning. It cannot be assumed that Black therapists will understand and be equipped to work with Black clients when dealing with racial issues and the impact racism has on an individual if they have not exposed and acknowledged their own internal racial oppressor. Nor can it be ignored that a door is unwittingly being shut on Black therapists and clients exploring racial issues in the supervisory dyad and therapeutic relationship, by the silence which surrounds White racial privilege.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) IPA is concerned with meaning-making within a subjective experience of ‘something’. In this context the study is concerned with how a Black person makes sense of the lived experience of internalized racism. As researcher my role is to understand the respondents process in sense-making, suspending any preconceptions held, from my own experience of the phenomena in order to be open and flexible for the respondent to take the interview to where it needs to be for their exploration of internalized racism. The questions designed around this study aim to reflect the respondents depth of experiencing and knowledge using the principles of IPA to inform the body of work.
If you are interested in being part of this study to effect change by developing racial competencies within the therapeutic profession I ask that you are available to attend an hour long, recorded, semi-structured interview, located at a privately dedicated space within University of East London, Stratford (UEL). I ask that respondents:
• define themselves as Black, British Caribbean or Black British African, trained Counsellors to at least Diploma level, currently in practice with supervisory support.
If you choose to participate I will introduce you to the research project in more detail. If at any point you wish to withdraw from the research you are free to do so.
Contact Billie-Claire Wright: firstname.lastname@example.org