Intersectionality Research in Counseling Psychology

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Abstract

This article introduces the special section on intersectionality research in counseling psychology. Across the 4 manuscripts that constitute this special section, a clear theme emerges: a need to return to the roots and politics of intersectionality. Importantly, the 2 empirical articles in this special section (Jerald, Cole, Ward, & Avery, 2017; Lewis, Williams, Peppers, & Gadson, 2017) are studies of Black women’s experiences: a return, so to speak, to the subject positions and social locations from which intersectionality emanates. Shin et al. (2017) explore why this focus on Black feminist thought and social justice is so important by highlighting the persistent weaknesses in how much research published in leading counseling psychology journals has tended to use intersectionality as a way to talk about multiple identities, rather than as a framework for critiquing systemic, intersecting forms of oppression and privilege. Shin and colleagues also point to the possibilities intersectionality affords us when scholars realize the transformative potential of this critical framework. Answers to this call for transformative practices are foregrounded in Moradi and Grzanka’s (2017) contribution, which surveys the interdisciplinary literature on intersectionality and presents a series of guidelines for using intersectionality responsibly. We close with a discussion of issues concerning the applications of intersectionality to counseling psychology research that spans beyond the contributions of each manuscript in this special section.

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