Date of Conferral





Counselor Education and Supervision


Jason Patton


Black/African American (B/AA) mothers struggle disproportionately with problems related to childbirth. B/AA mothers have higher rates of premature births, infant death prior to age one, and death during childbirth. The purpose of this research was to add to present knowledge regarding B/AA mothers who have had a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Womanist theory was selected as a framework for the study because it focuses on the intersection of gender and race in relation to B/AA women. The experience of B/AA women in U.S. society is unique, in that it involves several pervasive stereotypes and controlling images. The research question for this study focused on the lived experiences of B/AA mothers who had a baby in the NICU within the past 5 years. The study consisted of 8 B/AA mothers and data was collected through semistructured interviews. Hermeneutic phenomenology was used to address the meaning within participants’ experience. Themes that emerged from the data included protector, support, restrictive institutions, and trauma. This study may promote positive social change as counselor educators and supervisors may apply the findings to improve their training of counselors to ensure that they are equipped to engage with this population effectively. These include ensuring that counselors are culturally competent and knowledgeable regarding the unique experience of B/AA mothers. Counselors may thus be better able to engage in interventions that decrease mental health symptoms and provide support for B/AA mothers.