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Typically, privilege and oppression are two interrelated constructs that affect individuals on numerous levels and are largely influenced by one’s individual experiences. One potential impact of White counselors working in relationship with non-
8 White clients can be the use of microaggressions, which are damaging not only to the therapeutic relationship, but also to the client himself. Microaggressions can appear in counseling relationships when counselors, who are well meaning and egalitarian in beliefs, have not examined their negative stereotypes and attitudes about ethnic or racial minority groups, sometimes resulting from scientific racism and other concepts derived from institutionalized racism, and yet continue to work with individuals from those groups regularly (Arredondo & Fouad, 2007). Due to varied experiences, the level of awareness of one’s cultural background and its associated meaning can be placed at any one point on a spectrum of unaware to proactively aware. Often, as levels of awareness increase, one is better able to separate from feelings of resentment, shame, guilt, defensiveness, or responsibility. Those who find themselves unaware tend to be defensive or angry as conversations about race and white privilege arise. On the adverse end of the spectrum, those who are fully aware and proactive have been found able to free themselves of the guilt, shame, and responsibility associated with White privilege and are able to engage themselves in actively fighting against its constraints (Hays, 2008). Current Inclusion of White Privilege in Training Today, counseling trainees are typically introduced to the concept of White privilege through diversity course offerings and workshops within their training programs. In her 2007 article assessing diversity course effectiveness, Kim A. Case purported that instructors often design diversity course curriculums to introduce to students to key concepts in the field of multicultural studies while attempting to maximize student understanding of various forms of group inequality and dissipate previously held stereotypes and prejudiced attitudes. In the article, entitled Raising White
9 Privilege Awareness and Reducing Racial Prejudice: Assessing Diversity Course Effectiveness, Case (2007) issued a questionnaire one week after the commencement of a course assessing the students’ knowledge of White privilege by administering two commonly utilized tools: the White Privilege Awareness Scale, a six item scale that assesses the “recognition of systematic advantage for Whites in society.” (p. 231) and a ten item scale from the Color-Blind Racial Attitudes Scale, also referred to as CoBRAS, that measured the awareness of racism in society. Additionally, Case (2007) administered items addressing commonly held stereotypes of known racial and ethnic minorities, such as “Middle Eastern and Arab people are more violent than other groups”, and items that assessed the students’ varying levels of White guilt. (p. 232) Case then tracked the