The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of diversity training for field instructors that targeted their avoidant behavior in three areas-relationship with self, the supervisee, and the agency. The six-session monthly training intervention was developed in response to a survey of 52 field instructors that revealed gaps in their ability to directly address cultural concerns with student supervisees despite exposure to clients and staff who were different from themselves.


A thirteen item questionnaire was administered three times (pre-training-Time 1, post-training-Time 2, and six month follow-up-Time 3) to 11 participants to estimate change in avoidant behavior over time. The thirteen items address three dimensions: comfort with diversity; attention to issues of power and control and interpersonal conflict; and knowledge about ‘oppressed’ groups. Additional qualitative data were collected from planning meetings which were audiotaped, transcribed, and coded for thematic analysis of the process used by the training facilitators to develop the interventions.


Within-subjects, repeated measures ANOVA revealed a significant time effect, Wilks ˆ = .45 F (2,9) = 5.4, p = .02, multivariate n2 = .55. Follow-up pairwise contrasts showed significant change from postgroup (Time 2) to follow up (Time 3), t (10 = -3.165, p = .01). Wilks Lambda revealed a power of .70 for this study. Themes from the facilitators’ planning meetings included avoidance takes many forms, normalizing reactions, managing discomfort and creating safety, the willingness to risk defines the point where the real work in the relationship can occur, self defeating self talk impedes being effective.


Findings indicate that accenting manifestations of avoidance in training field instructors may increase their ability to directly address diversity issues with students. The results suggest that this model is now ready for further testing with larger and more diverse samples.

A manual is being written. The training will be replicated by field staff from George Warren Brown, St. Louis University, and the University of Missouri in Spring, 2004.

Center for Social Work Research, The University of Texas at Austin