Perceptions of African-American students in accredited marriage and family therapy programs: suggestions for improving recruitment and retention

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Virginia Tech


The marriage and family therapy profession is comprised mostly of European-American clinicians. Although all academic programs accredited by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) are required to demonstrate effort in recruiting African-American students, these efforts do not appear to be successful. This study was designed to provide suggestions for recruiting and supporting African-American students in marriage and family therapy programs based on perceptions of faculty and current African-American students.

Data for this study are based on survey questionnaires received from 25 of 29 directors of AAMFT accredited academic programs and telephone interviews followed by survey questionnaires completed by 15 of the 20 African-American graduate students enrolled in these programs during the 1989-90 academic year. Results indicated that African-American students and faculty are grossly under represented in these programs. Many current African-American students report feeling isolated, alienated and lonely, as well as disappointed with the lack of African-American peers and faculty in their program. Specific suggestions are offered by students and faculty for improving recruitment and retention of African-American students. Suggestions for improving program sensitivity to cultural and racial issues which may impede the full integration of the African-American student into the academic program and the profession are also offered.