Date Awarded

Summer 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)




Charles McAdams

Committee Member

Natoya Haskins

Committee Member

Tracy Cross


Implicit biases are known to have potentially damaging effects in counselors’ professional work. Although it is widely accepted that all people have these personal and unconscious biases, it has been difficult for researchers to identify strategies for consistently eradicating them on an individual level. To engage in multiculturally competent practice, counselors are directed to make every effort to eliminate latent biases. In order to understand how clinicians go about doing this, Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis was employed to explore the nature of counselors’ experiences navigating and addressing their implicit biases. The findings of this study revealed a need for more training in counselor education programs targeted at equipping students to work through the complex psychological challenges that come with addressing personal biases. Unfortunately, participants of this study indicated that they often feel unprepared to manage their implicit biases as they entered the workforce. Racial identity, empathy, obstacles, and a personal orientation towards addressing biases were discussed in relation to individual experiences navigating implicit bias. The findings of this study imply that practitioners’ retention of implicit biases impose added risk for already marginalized groups and that cognitive and racial identity developmental frameworks might offer some insight in identifying effective practices for reducing implicit biases. Implications for counselors, supervisors, and counselor educators are provided along with limitations of the study and directions for future research.



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