Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Danelle Stevens-Watkins

Second Advisor

Dr. Candice Hargons


In 2017, prominent counseling psychologists stressed the need to make Whiteness and allyship a focus of future research. In particular, they noted that a comprehensive definition of what it means to be White was missing from the extant literature within counseling psychology. Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA), the present study recruited 10 White individuals, who self-identified as an ally, and asked them to describe how they experienced being White and an ally in their everyday lives. Findings revealed that White culture and White privilege have components that are visible and invisible to White individuals. The more visible component of White privilege was outgroup disadvantage, as only one participant recognized ingroup advantage. The visible portion of White culture entailed a belief in the ideology that hard work yields societal rewards. The invisible portion of White culture entailed a belief in White superiority and the corresponding belief in the inferiority of people of color. Results also revealed that lack of awareness of and fear of losing White privilege impeded the actions of aspiring allies. Whereas, letting people of color lead and educating other Whites were strategies used that attempted to minimize the use of White privilege in allyship. Findings from this dissertation may help counseling psychologists understand White culture and White privilege in greater depth, which should inform how graduate training programs train clinicians and aspiring allies. Findings may also help counseling psychologists develop a comprehensive definition of Whiteness, which has been absent from the extant empirical literature.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Funding Information

In 2017, the Arvle and Ellen Thacker Turner Research Fund provided a $1,000 grant award for this dissertation. The funding was used to hire a transcription company to assist with the transcribing of qualitative interviews.