Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


Lyle S. Hallman Faculty of Social Work

First Advisor

Eliana Suarez

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Jennifer Root

Advisor Role

Second Reader


What are the experiences of racialized frontline workers? How do they experience vicarious racism? I interviewed 8 frontline workers who were involved in counseling racialized individuals. The narrative paradigm, constructivist self-development theory (CSDT), and critical race theory (CRT) were the theoretical frames that guided the interviews and data analysis in order to answer these questions. I conducted a structural narrative analysis, which revealed how participants utilized assumptions from master narratives and at other times countered them. Interviewees occasionally stepped outside of the master narrative entirely, for example, by rejecting the categorization of race. According to CSDT, our meanings are determined by schemas, which can be altered through experiences such as trauma, including vicarious trauma. Vicarious racism was similar to vicarious trauma in that it involved empathic engagement and occasionally, schema or somatic changes. Negative schema changes included: hypervigilance, development of double consciousness, and self-doubt. The primary positive schema change was moving from passive witness to active agent. However, vicarious racism did not always change one’s schema as participants used coping skills, such as double consciousness, normalization or counter-narratives, developed from their own experiences of racialization. A sense of belonging , mentorship and/or privilege was related to how vicarious racism was processed and whether or not counter-narratives were sustained. In using CRT as a theoretical lens, I examined not just how meaning is made by individual experiences, but how power relations and master narratives interplay with meaning making and schema development.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season