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Overcoming Unintentional Racism in Counseling and Therapy

Overcoming Unintentional Racism in Counseling and Therapy
A Practitioner's Guide to Intentional Intervention

Second Edition

March 2005 | 288 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc
Any counselor or therapist, regardless of race, background, or motive, can engage in unintentional acts of racism. In so doing, they may inadvertently sabotage their own efforts and perpetuate the very problems they seek to overcome. Overcoming Unintentional Racism in Counseling and Therapy, Second Edition examines the dynamics and effects of racism in counseling with an emphasis on the insidiousness of unintentional racism.

Workable solutions and practical alternatives are proposed with the goal of eliminating unintentional racism. Numerous supporting clinical examples are included in order to help counselors gain new insights into their operational practices and to modify any behaviors that may interfere with a helpful intervention. The Second Edition also provides a new section on the policies and practices of agencies and other institutions in the mental health system unintentionally resulting in service disparities. Macro-system and micro-system interventions are proposed to overcome these disparities. 

Key Features:
  • The only book that addresses unintentional racism in counseling and therapy.
  • Offers a superb balance of theory and practice.
  • Provides problem identification and workable solutions to individual and institutional racism.

Overcoming Unintentional Racism in Counseling and Therapy is ideally suited as a supplemental text for theoretical courses in counseling, counseling techniques, practicum, multicultural counseling, and professional seminars.


Ch. 1. Minority Clients as Victims
Understanding the Victim

Racism in Counseling and Therapy

Factors Contributing to Counselor Racism

Chapter Summary

Ch. 2. Fifteen Propositions

Chapter Summary

Ch. 3. What Is Racism?
Racism Defined

A Behavioral Model

Chapter Summary

Ch. 4. Models of Mental Health
The Deficit Model

The Medical Model

The Conformity Model

The Biopsychosocial Model

Chapter Summary

Ch. 5. Judgmental and Inferential Errors
Why Is Clinical Decision Making Difficult?

Four Types of Decisions

Prevalent Judgmental Errors

Chapter Summary

Ch. 6. Defensive Racial Dynamics
Ten Race-Related Defense Mechanisms

Chapter Summary

Ch. 7. Counseling Idiographically
Five Principles

The Case of Ricardo Garcia

The Case of Ricardo Garcia

Chapter Summary

Ch. 8. Setting Culturally Relevant Goals
Process Goals

Outcome Goals

Chapter Summary

Ch. 9. Making Better Clinical Decisions
General Decision-Making Strategies

Personal Debiasing Strategies

Chapter Summary

Ch. 10. Managing Resistance
Understanding Resistance

Client Responses in Counseling

Strategies to Manage Resistance

Chapter Summary

Ch. 11. Terminating Effectively
Reducing the Chances of Premature Termination

Concluding Each Session Effectively

Recycling or Referring When Appropriate

Evaluating Counseling Outcomes

Recommending Alternative Modalities

Following Up When Counseling Is Over

Preventing Relapse

Chapter Summary

Ch. 12. Racist Practices of Institutions
Consequences of Unintentional Institutional Racism

Causes of Unintentional Institutional Racism

Categories of Unintentional Institutional Racism

Chapter Summary

Ch. 13. Macrosystem Interventions
Practice-Based Minority Research

Mental Health Care Reform

Multicultural Training

Chapter Summary

Ch. 14. Microsystem Interventions
A Core Ideology That Embraces Diversity

Integrated Service Networks


Prevention and Health Promotion

Action Research

Affirmative Action

Chapter Summary

Chapter Summary


About the Author


"Taking an action-oriented approach, [Ridley] challenges counselors 'to examine the relationship between their behavior toward minority groups and the consequences of that behavior'... Many of his case study vignettes are helpful."

Patricia M. Berliner
American Psychological Association

"This book is both powerful and sobering.  It would serve as an excellent textbook for multicultural counseling classes.  It could also be a resource for counselors who are critically examining their therapeutic work with minority clients or for institutions evaluating the services provided to these clients.  Numerous examples throughout the book illustrate Ridley's points and help the text to come alive.  This book and its message will be needed as long as minority clients have negative experiences in counseling due to counselors' unintentional racism."

Kimberly Wagner
Indiana University-Bloomington
Counseling Today
Key features
The only book that addresses unintentional racism in counseling and therapy. It offers a superb balance of:
  • theory and practice  
  • problem identification and workable solutions  
  • individual and institutional racism 


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ISBN: 9780761919827

ISBN: 9780761919810

This title is also available on SAGE Knowledge, the ultimate social sciences online library. If your library doesn’t have access, ask your librarian to start a trial.