Black American Client Perceptions of the Treatment Process in a University Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic
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Despite negative perceptions of therapy, Black Americans are seeking therapy. I interviewed 8 Black clients about their experience of MFT. I used the Multidimensional Inventory of Black Identity (MIBI; Sellers, Rowley, Chavous, Shelton, & Smith, 1997) to assess their racial identity. Most participants thought it was strange for Blacks to seek therapy. Yet, these participants found the strength to seek therapy to protect their family and individual well-being. Participants found support from family, friends, and/or the church/religious beliefs. All attended church but few sought their pastor for therapeutic support. The participants who initially preferred a Black therapist also strongly viewed race as central to their self-identity. However, participants expressed greater concern for therapist competence, skills, and warmth than for therapist race. Yet, many discussed the benefits of having a Black therapist, which were greater comfort, ease, and openness for Black clients in therapy, as well as greater cultural familiarity for Black therapists. All of the participants reported satisfaction with their therapist and generally reported a positive experience. I also measured the experience of the first and third therapy sessions for Black and White clients, using the Session Evaluation Questionnaire (SEQ; Stiles, 2000). Black clients reported significantly less depth in the first session than White clients, suggesting a unique experience of therapy for Black clients. Also, Black clients that remained in therapy reported less smoothness in the first session than those who terminated. There were no significant findings for the third session. Research and treatment implications from these findings are discussed.
- Masters Theses