White Supremacy and the Web of Family Science: Implications of the Missing Spider

Ashley A. Walsdorf, Lorien S. Jordan, Christi R. McGeorge, Margaret O. Caughy

Family science is at the forefront of understanding the multiple and interconnected risk and protective factors (e.g., poverty vs. wealth, racism and discrimination, privilege) that affect families and the contexts in which they live. In this article, we use the metaphor of spider and web to suggest that family science theorizing is missing an integral piece of the puzzle—the designer of the contexts that have become the field's object of study and intervention (Krieger, 1994). Who or what is this designer? Recognizing that the answer is necessarily complex, we propose a metaphorical spider of insidious influence: White supremacy. Pairing understandings garnered from decades of critical theorizing with a review of the family science literature, we hypothesize about the web of causation and interrogate this culprit. Finally, we offer implications for the consciousness and intentional addition of White supremacy to family science theorizing and methods.

Research on mental health in Cambodia is increasing, yet there is limited focus on experiences of counsellors within this developing profession. This paper reports an Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis conducted with thirteen practicing counsellors in Cambodia. Our specific interest was to gain an idiographic understanding of the meanings participants made of the changes they experienced in becoming counsellors, while also considering the unique context of Cambodia. Our findings are presented through an integration of description and interpretation, which grounds our participants’ experiences of change, tension, and meaning-making in the socio-historical context of Cambodia and mental health development. Implications recommend ways to improve support needed to assist counsellors in this developing field.


Walsdorf, A. A., Jordan, L. S., McGeorge, C. R., & Caughy, M. O. (2020). White supremacy and the web of family science: Implications of the missing spider. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 12(1), 64-79.

Jordan, L.S., Seponski, D. S., & Armes, S. A. (2019). ‘Oh, it is a special gift you give to me…’:  A phenomenological analysis of counsellors in Cambodia. Asia Pacific Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 10(2), 146-158. doi:10.1080/21507686.2019.1629470


Boe, J., Jordan, L. S. (2019). A look back to move forward: Expanding queer potentiality in family science. Journal of Critical Thought and Praxis, 8(2). doi: 10.31274/jctp.8204

Jordan, L.S. (2018). “My mind kept creeping back… this relationship can’t last”: Developing self-awareness of monogamous bias. Journal of Feminist Family Therapy, 30(2), 109-127. doi: 10.1080/08952833.2018.1430459


Jordan, L.S., & Seponski, D. (2018). “Being a therapist doesn’t exclude you from real life”: Family therapist’s beliefs and barriers to political action. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 44(1), 19-31. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12244


Jordan, L.S., & Seponski, D. (2018). Public participation: Moving beyond the four walls of therapy. Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, 44(1), 5-18. doi: 10.1111/jmft.12240


Seponski, D., Jordan, L.S., (2018). Cross-cultural supervision in international settings: Experiences of foreign supervisors and native supervisees in Cambodia. The Journal of Family Therapy, 40(2), 247-264. doi: 10.1111/1467-6427.12157


Jordan, L. S., Grogan, C., Muruthi, B., & Bermúdez, J. M. (2017). Polyamory: Experiences of power from without, from within, and in between. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 16(1), 1-19.


Richardson, S. Jordan, L.S. (2017). Qualitative inquiry of sibling relationships: reinforcement of disability devaluation through the exclusion of voices. Disability & Society, 32(10), 1534-1554. doi: 10.1080/09687599.2017.1351330


Bermúdez, J. M., Muruthi, B. A., & Jordan, L. S. (2016). Decolonizing research methods for family science: Creating space at the center. Journal of Family Theory & Review, 8(2), 192-206.


Abrams-Muruthi, B.A., Nasis, T., Jordan, L.S., Grogan, C., Mckoy, M., & Farnham, F., (2015). A collaborative language systems approach: Implications for working with Afro-Caribbean families coping with infidelity. Journal of Systemic Therapies, 34(3), 26-43.

Political Action Series

Public Participation: Moving Beyond the Four Walls of Therapy

Lorien S. Jordan & Desiree M. Seponski

Journal of Marital and Family Therapy

Family therapists have an ethical responsibility for public participation, to work toward creating a better society. Serving the public interest and developing laws to promote the profession and the public good can be achieved through policy advocacy and political participation. Political and policy work are important but overlooked aspects of family therapy, which is significant given the consequences differing policies have for

clients and the profession. The following two papers published in the Journal of Family and Marital Therapy report on results from a random, national survey of licensed family therapists’ (N=174) advocacy actions, their barriers to and beliefs about policy and political action.

Check out this recent conversation about our recent article on white supremacy