Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology


Counseling Psychology

Content Description

1 online resource (vii, 86 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

LaRae M Jome

Committee Members

Michael V Ellis, Sally M Hage


clinical judgment, race, Discrimination in mental health services, Minorities, Health and race

Subject Categories

Counseling Psychology


In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to the importance of relevant factors in working with clients from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. The current study examined how client race and level of symptomology affect the clinical judgments of White counselor trainees using the Shifting Standards theory (Biernat, Manis, & Nelson, 1991; Biernat & Manis, 1994; Biernat, 2003) as a framework. One hundred and eighty four White therapist trainees were randomly assigned into four experimental groups: (1) severely depressed Black client, (2) severely depressed White client, (3) mildly depressed Black client, and (4) mildly depressed White client. The results indicated that when participants judged clients based on the severity of their problems, Black clients were judged more favorable than White clients, while judgments regarding prognosis and assessment of functioning were not affected by client race. These findings suggest several implications for training and clinical practice, including the importance of making trainees aware of the ways in which biases can affect their work with clients and finding ways to minimize the effect of these biases. The current study also supports the idea of a more complex relationship between client race and clinical judgment than would be expected using the Shifting Standards theory. With regard to level of symptomology, trainees' judgments appeared to accurately reflect the level of symptomology of the client including in the study, an important skill for continued clinical practice.