Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Education and Human Services


Counseling and Educational Leadership

Thesis Sponsor/Dissertation Chair/Project Chair

Leslie Kooyman

Committee Member

Larry Burlew

Committee Member

Kathy Gainor

Committee Member

Kathryn Herr

Committee Member

Catherine Roland


The aim of this study was to explore how African American Christians’ have experienced decision making related to seeking counseling and other mental health treatment outside of the church. To this end, this study asked the following research question: What influences African American Christians’ decisions to pursue or not pursue professional psychological help? The impact of culturally related influences on the help seeking decision making of African American Christians was explored and discussed throughout this research study. The research question for this study was addressed through a qualitative interview design. This qualitative design included interviewing a total of 12 African American men and women who identified as Christian and either Baptist or African Methodist Episcopal (AME). For optimal analysis, data were stratified by participants’ age, gender, and denomination. Analysis of the data collected produced several emergent themes. From this study’s emergent themes, it is suggested that the professional psychological help seeking decisions of African American Christians are influenced by their diverse life experiences and cultural influences. Prior research has examined patterns and barriers related to the mental health treatment of African Americans. However, this study is more specific in its exploration of the impact of cultural influences the mental health help seeking decisions of African American Christians.

Included in

Counseling Commons