|dc.description.abstract||The question of how to address diversity in the professional training of clinical psychologists is
of concern in South Africa and elsewhere. This concern is particularly salient in contemporary
South Africa, where much of the sociopolitical discourse centres on issues of race,
transformation, relevance and redress. This research is in line with current debates, and set out to
explore the self articulated racial identities as well as the impact of those identities on the work of
trainees in the second year of their clinical psychology masters degree, at three universities in the
Western Cape province of South Africa. Trainees’ perceptions of the role of the universities in
facilitating the working through of challenges identified in trainees’ racial identities and in
facilitating multiracial competencies, were also explored in this study.
Individual interviews were conducted with nineteen trainee psychologists. A minimally
structured questionnaire was used in this qualitative inquiry. The theoretical framework
underpinning the methodology used in this thesis endeavour, with a critical lens as background, is
primarily supported by the “interpretive” or “hermeneutic” approach to psychological theory.
Critical theory offered further support to understanding some of the complex issues in working
with racialised discourses.
Whilst all trainees identified themselves in racial terms, race continues to be a complex and, for
many, a painful construct. For many, the family has been the primary source of racial
socialisation, largely premised on essentialist, stereotypical discourse. With regard to the impact
of their racial identity on their work, many indicate that their race significantly impacted on this.
They reported a particular concern with working in cross-racial dyads. Racial difference was
sometimes reported to enhance the clinical process, but was far more often experienced as a
difficulty. The trainees were unanimous that the universities at which they had studied had fallen
far short of what they would have wished in terms of facilitating multiracial competencies.
The findings suggest that whilst legislation has changed the political profile of South Africa, the
process of transformation within the psychological sites studied, is cause for concern. The
dissatisfaction with the training provided, for many trainees centres around issues of relevance to
the South African context. Despite efforts by some universities to diversify the racial profile of
trainees, in the attempt to address the needs of people of colour, trainees believe efforts to be
insufficient. While this study did not collect data, that could corroborate or question the opinions of trainees, results clearly suggest that trainee psychologists do not believe universities are
currently doing enough. The implications of the trainees’ views are discussed and implications
considered for trainees, trainers, the users of psychological services, and for the role of
psychology as a discipline in civil society.||en_ZA