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Counseling Profession's Anti-Racism Efforts

In this video interview, Dr. Ebony White talks with Ray Barrett about the American Counseling Association’s Anti-Racism Commission. During the discussion, Dr. White explains how the commission is addressing “the historical racism and continued exclusionary practices that have existed in the [counseling] profession and the [ACA] organization.”  

On an individual level, Dr. White says that tasks call on the ACA to play a larger “role in [using] decolonized theories and interventions…specifically with Black clients [and] making sure that anti-Black racism, reform, advocacy, and activism is occurring at all levels”—with an additional emphasis on leadership pipelines for marginalized populations.

Dr. White supports the commission’s efforts to actively review ACA bylaws and procedures to move beyond “just using language” or a “blanket approach to rooting out racism in the profession.” On the national and state levels, the group is also pushing for congressional action and research that targets oppressive policies and under-researched topics. According to Dr. White, “document[ing] the history of racism in the profession” is a key part of the process.  

For behavioral health organizations that are interested in applying anti-racism policies, Dr. White recommends honoring “the expertise of the people who are often left out of the conversation” and giving power to the consultants who are proposing changes. By requiring consultants to sign off on new policies, the authenticity of the consultant’s observations is deeply respected. Moving from a bottom-up to a top-down approach—by establishing a vision for change at the leadership level—increases the likelihood that changes will be transformative and long-lasting.  

Dr. Ebony White is a Licensed Professional Counselor, and Clinical Supervisor. She is an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy and the Program Director of the Master in Addiction’s Counseling program at Drexel University. 

She is also the Executive Director of the Center for Mastering and Refining Children’s Unique Skills (MARCUS), the President-Elect of Counselors for Social Justice, and the Immediate Past Chair for the North Atlantic Region of the American Counseling Association. You can learn more about Dr. White by visiting her website or through MARCUS.  Register for Dr. White’s “Race, Power and Privilege: Addressing Cross Cultural Dynamics in Supervision” course here.

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