Racial Color Blindness in Counseling, Therapy, and Supervision

Document Type

Contribution to Book



Format of Original

17 p.; 27 cm

Publication Date



American Psychological Association

Source Publication

The Myth of Racial Color Blindness: Manifestations, Dynamics, and Impact

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1037/14754-018


Race is perhaps one of the most difficult topics to discuss in contemporary society. Although race influences so many aspects of everyday life, we are often hesitant and sometimes afraid to broach, openly discuss or acknowledge the impact of racial issues in our daily lives. As such, race and how it affects society holds power over people in complex and sometimes insidious ways. Counselors feel this same tension. Some counselors believe that openly including discussions of racial concerns is vital to the counseling and therapy process (e.g., Burkard & Knox, 2004; Day-Vines et al., 2007). Others, however, have argued that such discussions are unnecessary (e.g., Abramowitz & Murray, 1983; Garb, 1997) and perhaps even a distraction from important clinical issues (e.g., Garb, 1997). The latter perspectives are consistent with color-blind racial ideology (CBRI), which has emerged as a critical variable in psychology and counseling (Neville, Awad, Brooks, Flores, & Bluemel, 2013). CBRI is the denial of racial differences and racism by emphasizing that everyone is the same or has the same life opportunities (Neville et al., 2013). We agree with others (e.g., Neville et al., 2013) that a growing body of evidence indicates CBRI is detrimental to clients and counseling processes as well as the overall supervision and education of future practitioners. As such, we contend that decreasing CBRI and working to directly address race and power in therapy has benefits in counseling, supervision, and preprofessional education. We address these issues in this chapter. We review conceptual associations between CBRI and other multicultural counseling constructs that are specific to counseling practitioners and trainees, examine the current empirical findings specific to racial color blindness in counseling and supervision processes, offer comment on possible implications for counseling and supervision, and conclude with suggestions for future research. Throughout this chapter, we use the terms counselor and counseling to refer broadly to mental health practitioners (e.g., counselors, psychologists, therapists) and their related clinical and counseling processes and practices.


"Racial Color Blindness in Counseling, Therapy, and Supervision," in The Myth of Racial Color Blindness: Manifestations, Dynamics, and Impact. Eds. Helen A Neville, Miguel E Gallardo and Derald Wing Sue. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2015: 295-311. DOI.