Lisa Spanierman: White racial identity || White allyship

In this episode, we talked to Lisa Spanierman who is a professor of counseling and counseling psychology and associate dean for academic personnel and faculty success in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at the Arizona State University, U.S.

PAST (00:02:03): Lisa describes growing up in a so-called “White bubble” in New Jersey. She explains how living in a majority Black dorm during her studies in Florida, and subsequently meeting academic role models at teachers college in New York City sparked her interest in issues related to structural racism in society and White privilege. During her Ph.D., she was able to build a strong sense of academic self-efficacy, being supported by many inspiring mentors at the University of Missouri.

PRESENT (00:18:43): We discuss the article by Janet Helms (1993) about how White researchers need to be aware of their own positionality and privilege in research and society, their own White racial identity development, and about how racism operates in a society where Whiteness is the norm. She also shares findings of her own research on different types of White racial justice allies.

FUTURE (00:43:50): Lisa emphasizes the use of multiple and mixed methods to better address the topics and questions within counselling psychology. She further explains how funding opportunities for university students can enable these students to conduct excellent and necessary research on pressing societal issues, including micro-aggressions. Lisa further explains how understanding the pitfalls and possibilities of White allyship can make social justice work more effective and meaningful.


*Helms, J. E. (1993). I also Said, “White Racial Identity Influences White Researchers.” The Counseling Psychologist21(2), 240–243.

Helms, J. E. (2019). A race is a nice thing to have: A guide to being a white person or understanding the white persons in your life (3rd ed.). Cognella.

Bowser, B. P., & Hunt, R. G. (Eds.). (1996). Impacts of racism on White Americans (2nd ed.). Sage Publications, Inc.

Spanierman, L. B., & Smith, L. (2017). Roles and Responsibilities of White Allies: Implications for Research, Teaching, and Practice. The Counseling Psychologist, 45(5), 606–617.


Robert Carter, Mary Heppner, Helen Neville