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Social Work


Peter Meagher


AbstractAfrican American (AA) women experience decreased rates of retention and increased rates of mental health conditions. The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to explore lived experiences of AA women who received therapeutic services from European American (EA) clinicians. The strong Black woman (SBW) schema served as a conceptual framework for this study. The research question was to examine how the endorsement of the SBW schema affect AA women’s experiences of the therapeutic alliance during clinical treatment with EA clinicians. Data collection was accomplished through semi structured interviews conducted through Zoom from six participants in Atlanta, GA. Participant selection involved time-location, criterion-based, and snowball sampling. Participants were AA women, who received therapy from EA clinicians between the ages of 21 and 65 years. A qualitative analysis was conducted using Moustakas' data analysis method. Findings revealed participants felt discomfort and that their therapists were unable to relate to or understand the culture and life of AA women. Participants also felt a poor connection and engagement with therapists and maintained a lack of confidence in them. Findings also revealed double-sided notions of SBW schema, personal strengths of independence, and that SBW schema hinders the therapeutic alliance. This research serves as a call to action to further studies in the therapeutic alliance and prepare clinicians to engage and treat AA women, as implications lean toward improved cultural competency of EA clinicians to increase their understanding of the SBW and increase retention rates. This research supports the need for change in practice policy and potentially that of local licensing boards.

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