The Role of Racial Attitudes and Identity in Black Client-White Counselor Dyads
The therapeutic alliance has become an important area of investigation in the psychotherapy literature due to its demonstration of a moderate and consistent relationship with therapy outcomes. Some researchers have suggested that barriers to alliance formation may exist in cross-ethnic dyads due to different worldviews, race related socialization experiences, and racial attitudes. Although past research has indicated that racial identity and attitudes played a role in predicting various counseling processes, no studies in this area have examined their influence in actual counseling dyads. The purpose of the present study was to investigate the role of Black racial identity and attitude toward Whites, White racial attitudes, and the interaction of both members' racial attitudes on alliance ratings in 72 Black client-White counselor dyads. Results indicated that while a Black client's expectations for counseling success significantly predicted client alliance ratings, neither Black racial identity, the racial attitudes of counselors or clients, nor the interaction of the racial attitudes of both members were significant predictors of alliance ratings. Implications of these findings for theory, research, and practice of counseling in Black client-White counselor dyads are discussed.