Psychology, Professional


Summer 8-22-2023

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Salina Renninger, Bryana French, Sandra Faulkner


In the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd and the following social uprising in my neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota, I sought to examine my White racial identity development while engaging in autoethnographic poetic inquiry to better understand the influence of Whiteness in my life, relationships, and in conjunction with other intersectional identities (such as being the mother of two adopted people of color). As someone training to become a psychologist, the literature regarding educating White clinicians suggested that we are more likely to be able to treat people from other backgrounds in a culturally responsive fashion if we have an understanding of our own culture and race (Mallot, 2019; Spanierman & Smith, 2017; Sue & Sue, 2016). Over the course of eight months, I wrote research poetry as a form of data and analysis in response to reading Janet Helms’ book A Race is a Nice thing to Have: A Guide to Being a White Person or Understanding the White Persons in Your Life (2020) and engaging with White Dialectics theory, developed by Todd and Abrams (2011), in the hope I might cultivate a positive, antiracist White identity. With the expectation that this process would be challenging intellectually, socially, and emotionally, the purpose of this study was to artfully render in poetry my thoughts, feelings, behaviors, experiences, observations, and personal evolution related to identity development. I attempted to answer the following research questions: 1. What is the lived experience of a White woman training to become a culturally responsive psychologist? 2. What is the developmental process of cultivating an anti-racist White identity for a White psychologist-in-training? 3. How does poetic inquiry help cultivate a positive White antiracist identity? My research poetry was evaluated according to standards defined by Sandra Faulkner in Poetic Inquiry: Craft, Method, and Practice (2020) and through working with a poetry coach for two years to develop the study, establish the approach to poetic craft, and the revision of research poetry produced. Results suggested progress in cultivating a positive, antiracist White racial identity in conjunction with increased awareness regarding the influence of additional intersectional identities. Further study of the use of autoethnographic poetic inquiry in conjunction with the study of White racial identity development may be warranted in training White clinicians in the field of psychology.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.