Challenging racism in the therapy room: A Foucauldian Analysis of Counselling Psychologists’ accounts of their experiences and strategies working with clients’ racist remarks

  • Angelina Baslari

Student thesis: Doctor of Counselling Psychology


Research has established that a constitutive theory of language and the interrelations between knowledge, power, and subjectivity have provided a useful framework for understanding how social and cultural forces come to form subjectivity, identities towards certain possibilities. Richards (1997) has looked at the emergence and establishment of racism as a social construction. This thesis has been inspired by the work of various feminist, postcolonial and antiracist theorists including Foucault and Fanon. Given the limited studies of how racism can be addressed by counselling psychology, the first aim of this research was to understand counselling psychologists’ accounts of encountering racism towards other groups of people in the therapy practice. The second aim was to explore what a discursive perspective brings to our understanding of the (de)construction of racism in therapy. Implications for the profession of counselling psychology in promoting an anti-racist practice have been provided. This is a qualitative study adhering to a social constructionist epistemology and a relativist ontology. Six counselling psychologists were recruited to the study. The accounts were generated via semi-structured interviews and they transcribed and analysed by Foucauldian Discourse Analysis (FDA). The analysis suggested that potential reasons for reinforcing racism appeared to be linked with the White supremacy and with Colonialism. Dominant discourses of power appeared to be aligned with other systems of classification including class, education and status. Therapists’ strategies included deconstructing Otherness and promoting awareness and dialogue around issues of oppression and racism. This study claims to make its contribution to knowledge in three main areas; conceptual, methodological and practice-related interventions.
Date of Award1 Aug 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorTerry Hanley (Supervisor) & Erica Burman (Supervisor)


  • Foucauldian Discourse Analysis
  • Racism
  • Counselling Psychology
  • Fanon

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