Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Counseling Psychology

First Adviser

Spokane, Arnold R.

Other advisers/committee members

Liang, Christopher T. H.; Beachum, Floyd D.; Sperandio, Jill


The racial dynamics and sociopolitical history of the United States create a unique context for the Black therapist-White client counseling dyad. Each member within this dyad may have a number of transferences or countertransferences (i.e. responses) to one another based on their racial identity and socialization experiences; all of which may affect the therapeutic process. Utilizing a mixed-method design, two research questions guided the present study: (a) Does Black racial identity predict countertransference reactions experienced by Black therapists when working with White clients? (b) What are the benefits and challenges that Black therapists self-report when working with White clients? A multivariate multiple regression analysis was proposed to examine the first research question; however, this analysis was not conducted due to an insufficiently low sample size (N=28). Therefore, a descriptive analysis of mean comparisons based on primary themes in the qualitative data was performed. On the Black Racial Identity Attitudes Scale (Helms, 1990), mean comparisons did not appear to vary significantly based on themes; however, participants generally had high scores on the Internalization subscale. On the Therapist Response Questionnaire (Betan et al., 2005), means were generally low across themes, with the exception of Positive countertransference. These results may suggest that participants in this sample had positive, stable racial identity and that these therapists enjoyed their work with White clients regardless of challenges faced. To examine the second research question, the Discovery-Oriented Approach (Mahrer, 1988) was utilized with qualitative responses from 27 therapist participants. Qualitative results highlighted 29 themes regarding the impact of racial dynamics on the counseling process. Findings from the present study highlight the benefits and challenges Black therapists encounter when working in cross-racial dyads and provide implications for multicultural training.