Racial justice in counselor training the focus of journal special issue

Jun 8, 2023

June 8, 2023 (Alexandria, Virginia)—Many people of color live in areas devoid of mental health services. Those fortunate enough to find a therapist may receive treatments that fit poorly with their cultural values or complicate their racial trauma.

A critical response to this inequity is better anti-racism education for counselors in training, educators say. In a special issue of Counselor Education and Supervision, a journal of the American Counseling Association, scholars offer ideas on how counseling educators and supervisors can add advocacy and social justice curriculum to counselor training programs.

“By reflecting on our own educational system, we can better understand how we have influenced and can influence counselor awareness related to inequities present in mental healthcare delivery,” guest editors Amanda C. La Guardia and Linwood Vereen write in the opening editorial for the issue. 

La Guardia is an associate professor and counseling programs coordinator at the University of Cincinnati. Vereen is a clinical associate professor at Oregon State University.

The special issue highlights some efforts and ideas designed to make counselor education training more inclusive:

  • Michael Hannon of Montclair State University, Ebony White of Drexel University and Halston Fleming of Rutgers University cite the need to continue bringing more leaders of color into the field to help topple racist policies.
  • Hannah B. Bayne of University of Florida and colleagues discuss the need to train counseling students in cultural empathy—the ability to genuinely empathize with the experience of clients from different racial backgrounds. In a separate article, Bayne serves as lead author on a report about a social justice training program involving counseling trainees and student activists.
  • Sam Steen, George Mason University, and Priscilla Rose Prasath, University of Texas at San Antonio, examine Black doctoral students’ participation in scholarly publishing.
  • Ahmad R. Washington of the University of Louisville, Joseph M. Williams of University of Virginia and Janice A. Byrd of Pennsylvania State University write about the importance of incorporating anti-racist training models into clinical supervision.
  • Kok-Mun Ng of Oregon State University and six other counselor educators from diverse cultural backgrounds discuss how they incorporate their own identities and experiences in their instruction.
  • Kaprea F. Johnson of The Ohio State University and colleagues report on a school counseling internship program that shows trainees how to recognize and address systemic racism in school systems.

The special issue—and other articles on this topic appearing in future issues of the journal—respond to rising concerns among counselors about the need for diversity-focused and anti-racist education for counselors entering the profession, La Guardia said.

“Understanding systems of oppression can only occur when we listen to and value the voices of those who have experienced systemic wrongs, including racism,” La Guardia said. “This starts with ourselves and extends to the classroom, the supervisory relationship, and the mentoring relationship.”

Spencer Niles, the journal’s editor and a professor at The College of William & Mary, said publication of this special issue was his top priority.

“The need to support counselor educators and supervisors in their efforts to create anti-racist pedagogical strategies for counselor education clearly continues,” Niles said, “and it is my hope that this special issue stimulates additional publications in this important area.” 

See the special issue at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/15566978/2023/62/2

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To schedule an interview with a member of the research team, please contact ACA at news@counseling.org.

Founded in 1952, the American Counseling Association (ACA) is a not-for-profit, professional and educational organization that is dedicated to the growth and enhancement of the counseling profession. ACA represents nearly 60,000 members and is the world's largest association exclusively representing professional counselors in various practice settings. Driven by the belief that all people can benefit from the power of counseling, ACA’s mission is to promote the professional development of counselors, advocate for counselors, and ensure that ethical, culturally inclusive practices protect our members’ clients and all people who seek counseling services.