Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


College of Humanities and Social Sciences



Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Carrie Masia

Committee Member

Jason Willaims

Committee Member

Samantha Coyle


Social anxiety is frequent and debilitating for Black adolescents with associated impairment (La Greca & Stone, 1993; Stein & Kean, 2000; Van Ameringen et al., 2003). Despite its prevalence and severity, Black adolescents are less likely to seek mental health treatment due to systemic and social barriers such as accessibility and social stigma (Bains, 2014; Lindsey et al., 2006; Lindsey et al., 2013). Barriers to seeking treatment, particularly for socially anxious Black adolescents, are mostly absent in the literature and thus require investigation. To understand culturally specific factors related to social anxiety symptoms as well as to investigate perceived barriers to seeking treatment, interviews were conducted at an urban public high school in the northeastern United States with seven Black adolescents ages 15 to 18 years old. Questions included perceptions of social anxiety, treatment barriers, and school-based treatment components in relation to their racial/ethnic background. Thematic analysis was used to devise a coding scheme and capture the relevant experiences of students. Results indicated that all participants had experienced or could identify cognitive and behavioral symptoms of social anxiety, with reports of racism and social norms as culturally distinct contributors to social anxiety symptoms. Barriers to seeking treatment included stigma and judgment, speaking about issues with others, perceived effectiveness of treatment, and caregiver obstacles. We propose an anti-stigma approach for practitioners to address racism and social stigma. Moreover, creating an open and safe environment, explicitly noting the benefits of treatment, and providing psychoeducational or joint sessions with caregivers of Black adolescents are warranted.

File Format


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Psychology Commons