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The Problem with Colorblindness in Pastoral Counseling

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.

3 Unhelpful Colorblind Reactions to Race

I channeled my frustration into the development and eventual publishing of a research paper on how the ideology of racial colorblindness is more harmful to a therapeutic relationship (or any relationship) than it’s well-intentioned foundation of inclusion (Dempsey, Ching & Page 2016). While the research paper speaks at length about the implications for using a colorblind ideology within a counselor-training program, there are types of colorblind reactions (dismissive, pseudo-apathetic, and intrusive) that are important to recognize within the helping profession in general. The importance of recognizing these reactions are to not elicit fears of guilt or shame, but instead to help you gain a stronger awareness and understanding of how these reactions may impact others as you minister to people in your church. I myself am guilty of sometimes using colorblind reactions with others within my own ethnic group. The true importance lies within increasing your own awareness so the next time you are sitting across from someone who is of a different race or ethnicity than you, you may be more in tune with what may be harmful or helpful along the journey toward growth and healing.

Dismissive Reaction

A dismissive reaction occurs when a person of color’s experience is equated to an experience that could have happened to anyone—saying or acting like race had nothing to do with it. Student A shares that they are having a difficult time adjusting to college because English is a second language, while Student B shares that they, too, are facing difficulties because the workload is more difficult than high school. A dismissive reaction would be, “It seems like everyone is having a hard time in college!” A more appropriate response would be to acknowledge that Student A’s difficulty is based on a significant change in lifestyle due to race and ethnicity.

July03, 2017 at 10:15 AM

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