Black clinical psychology interns at a 'white' university : their experience of colour during training

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This study examines whether black clinical psychology interns at a "white" university experience issues during training which they perceive to be colour-related, and suggests ways of dealing with these issues as part of training. The results are based on 22 one-hour semi-structured interviews conducted with four male and three female black ('Coloured', 'Asian' and 'Black') interns drawn from a group of 12 who had completed their first year of the Clinical Psychology Master's programme at the Child Guidance Clinic (CGC), University of Cape Town, between 1976 and 1990. At the time of interviewing four respondents were registered psychologists and three were intern psychologists. Interviews were taped and transcribed verbatim. The data was analysed qualitatively. Emergent themes are: Not feeling good enough, language and articulation, relating to classmates and trainers, working with clients, and talking about black concerns. There was substantial variation between interns within these themes in terms of the perceived impact of colour-related issues during their training. While provision should be made for the black intern who does experience significant effects from racially-related issues during training to work through these, interns (and trainers) should avoid overlabelling training difficulties as racially based. Other suggestions include the following: (a) Preselection information sent to applicants for the course could outline the CGC's informal policy on training interns from all races. (b) Reading and seminars held during orientation could include literature and discussion which would facilitate talking about black concerns. (c) Black staff could be appointed to the clinical training team. (d) Supervisors need to become more aware of the ways in which colour-related issues may affect interns' training, and of ways to facilitate interns' dealing with these issues where necessary. One possible model of the supervisor's role in the development of the intern's professional identity, including black interns, is briefly outlined.

Bibliography: leaves 71-74.