Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James M. Croteau

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Z. Anderson

Third Advisor

Dr. Katherine A. Cummings


White counselors and psychologists need to have a strong understanding of racism and white privilege for effective therapeutic work with people of color. However, many white counselors struggle in various ways with multicultural training. The phenomenon of white counselors in training struggling with awareness of racism and white privilege is well-recognized but not fully understood.

A constructivist grounded theory study was conducted to explore the phenomena of "struggle" among white counselors in training who were engaged in multicultural training. 33 interviews were conducted with 17 participants who were students in master's and doctoral level counseling, counseling psychology, and related programs.

The analysis of the interviews resulted in a conditional matrix, or theoretical model, of the Development of Awareness of Racism by Whites (DARW). This model consists of three transitions or developmental tasks. Each transition includes a stance toward racism and a learning task. The first transition is the External Transition in which participants learned about race in society. The External Transition begins with the stance of Believing in a Just Society and the task is to Explore Race in Society. The second transition is the Internal Transition in which participants learn about their own participation in racism and white privilege. The Internal Transition begins with the stance of Being a Good White Person and the task is to Discover one's own Racism and White Privilege. The third transition is the Transforming Transition in which participants engage in the task of Integrating Commitment against racism into their lives and come to the stance of Sustaining Commitment. There is also a defensive stance of "Surviving" against Threat that some participants resorted to when feeling threatened by learning about racism and privilege. The model addresses personal characteristics and environmental factors that facilitate and hinder the DARW process.

The model is compared to existing developmental models of racism awareness and racial identity. Suggestions are offered for incorporating the model into multicultural counseling training.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access