Raising Awareness of Implicit Biases

Maria P. Heim, Ph.D.
Program Chair, School Counseling
Coordinator, Office of Disability
Graduate School of Education, Touro College

Recently the mainstream media has taken an interest in the idea of “implicit bias”, bringing it into the popular discourse. Implicit biases, as the name implies, are preconceived notions of which we are unaware, but nonetheless guide our emotions and actions. This unconscious mindset often affects our decisions and behaviors pertaining to race, religion, age, etc.  In a world where people have become increasingly more polarized, the need to address biases, explicit and implicit, has made it imperative for educational institutions to be pro-active in addressing issues of discrimination, especially those arising from latent inclinations.

Our Master of Science School Counseling program attempts to address these issues. The program is rooted in community-based counselor training with a focus on culturally relevant social and philosophical concepts, with an emphasis on developing empathic understanding and ‘perspective taking’ in our candidates.

By mentoring our students to develop sensitivity and honest concern for individuals with diverse experiences and views, we can perhaps begin to create pathways of understanding, so our candidates can become more aware of the implicit biases they carry with them and implement strategies to overcome these ingrained belief systems.

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