Addressing Whiteness and Racism in Clinical Psychology: White Clinical Psychologists’ Experiences within Leadership

Prof Doc Thesis

Williams, N. 2022. Addressing Whiteness and Racism in Clinical Psychology: White Clinical Psychologists’ Experiences within Leadership. Prof Doc Thesis University of East London School of Psychology
AuthorsWilliams, N.
TypeProf Doc Thesis

The profession of Clinical Psychology, both in its past and present, has been greatly impacted by whiteness. Due to this, it is important to consider how whiteness affects Clinical Psychologist’s leadership within teams as, among many things, it will impact the staff they manage. As white Clinical Psychologists are the main benefactors of whiteness within the profession and are overrepresented in leadership positions, the study aimed to explore their experiences of addressing whiteness within their leadership roles.
Thirteen self-identified white Clinical Psychologists were interviewed on their experiences of addressing whiteness and racism in leadership and their experiences of barriers to and facilitators of examining whiteness and anti-racist leadership.
Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis identified three superordinate themes, each with its own sub-themes: ‘Life Being Ignorant is Less Painful’ (‘Whiteness Isn’t at the Forefront of My Mind’, ‘Too Uncomfortable to Confront Whiteness’); Careful, Shameful Conversations – ‘Treading on Eggshells’ (‘More Careful’, ‘More Shame and Guilt’); Don’t Know How to be Anti-Racist – ‘I Don’t Know What To Do’ (Burden on Racialised Staff as ‘Trainers’, ‘Not Doing Enough’, Rationalisations for a Lack of Change – ‘I’m Making Excuses Now’, Attempts to Encourage Change – ‘Working on Being Actively Anti-racist’).
Barriers to and facilitators of addressing whiteness were discussed, and recommendations for the profession were made. It is hoped that the study’s findings may influence white Clinical Psychologists in leadership positions to examine whiteness within their roles and consider how whiteness affects colleagues. Through the examination of whiteness alongside recognising and harnessing their power and responsibility to address it, they can challenge the harmful status quo.

KeywordsClinical Psychology; Whiteness; Racism; Anti-Racism; Leadership
PublisherUniversity of East London
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
File Access Level
Publication dates
Online11 Jan 2023
Publication process dates
Completed15 Aug 2022
Deposited11 Jan 2023
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