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For decades, research findings have suggested that counselors’ subjective inner experiences with clients tap into their own prejudices, which subsequently influence the process of counseling (e.g., Butcher & Scofield, 1984; Strohmer & Shivy, 1994; Ridley, 2005). Most of the time, these prejudices operate below an in-the-moment conscious level. Not surprisingly, research findings have suggested that when counselors garner an understanding of their prejudices, through examining subjective inner experiences, they simultaneously boost their ethnic/racial identity development (Pope-Davis & Dings, 1995). This is key for counselors because ethnic identity development has been positively correlated with multicultural counseling competence (Vinson & Neimeyer, 2003).

The Scripted Prejudice-Awareness Narrative Strategy (SPANS) is process developed by the researcher designed to enlighten counseling students on the development and salience of their internalized prejudices. The process also illuminates how the counseling students’ prejudices may influence their counseling relationships. Through individual supervision the counseling student learns to confront the stereotypes he or she has internalized, so that those prejudices have less of an impact on their counseling relationships.

The research paradigm undergirding this study was constructivism. Constructivism adheres to a relativist philosophical position, which purports that reality is constructed in the mind of the individual and therefore multiple realities exist. These realities are equally valid and they can be apprehended (Ponterotto, 2005). Moreover, constructivism supports the belief that meaning is usually hidden and gradually emerges through a reflective mental process (Schwandt, 2000). Thus, the primary goals of researchers who are guided by this paradigm are to stimulate the reflective process in an effort to uncover these deeper meanings (Heppner, Wampold, & Kivlighan, 2007). In so doing the researcher and participant co-construct reality (Ponterotto, 2005). Qualitative research methods provide the primary means of investigation within this paradigm.

Narrative analysis is a method that utilizes narratives (i.e. stories) as the primary object of inquiry. Narrative analysis is often employed as a means to explore the complexities and contradictions inherent in individuals’ experiences, and the social influences that shape individuals’ realities (Phoenix, Smith, & Sparkes, 2010). Given the specific qualities and assumptions of narrative methodology we found it particularly relevant to the exploration of individuals’ prejudicial attitudes and beliefs, and the examination of the difficult emotional process involved in becoming self-aware of such beliefs. The stories that emerged uncovered significant prejudicial attitudes regarding the cultural variables of gender, religion, and socioeconomic status. Analysis revealed that these prejudices had clear effects in counseling.


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  • Subject
    • Counseling

  • Event date
    • 11 November 2016

  • Date submitted

    18 July 2022

  • Keywords
  • Additional information
    • Author Biography:

      Dr. Clay Rowell is currently the Department Head for Clinical Mental Health Counseling at the University of North Georgia. He has been a practicing counselor for 21 years and a Counselor Educator for 11 years. An avid scholar, Dr. Rowell has over 50 regional, national, and international presentations and has authored over 10 published works. He also was the recipient of the 2012 Excellence in Teaching award from the University of North Georgia. He is currently involved in 6 research projects (3 with students) and is authoring/editing a book on processing experience in counseling and counselor education.