Construing Non-white and White Clients: Mental Health Practitioners’ Superordinate Constructs Related to Whiteness and Non-whiteness in Australia

Publication Name

Journal of Constructivist Psychology


Acceptance and inclusion of diversity is challenged by the prevailing sociopolitical and ethnocultural framework of Whiteness in Australia. To examine the impact of Whiteness on practitioner construct systems, mental health practitioners’ constructions and preference for nonwhite and White people, as well as frameworks of Whiteness and nonwhiteness, were explored. Twenty White and nonwhite mental health practitioners and trainees were purposively sampled and interviewed using an adapted version of the laddering interview technique. Data was analyzed thematically and interpreted using Personal Construct Theory—the theoretical framework that informed the study. The findings reiterate those found in research literature which highlights the persistent role of Whiteness on constructs of nonwhiteness, as well as on White and nonwhite people. The results suggest that a potential shift has occurred in the discourse on constructions of White and nonwhite people amongst mental health practitioners. This shift may be the movement away from being blind to difference and acknowledgement of the inequities and inequalities experienced by diverse groups. The implications of such a shift allow both White and nonwhite people increased opportunities for access to and engagement with supports aimed at improving psychological wellbeing.

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