Date of Conferral







Dr. Rachel Piferi


African Americans do not seek mental health help at the same rate, as do European Americans; furthermore, African Americans who do seek help tend to leave therapy prematurely. A poor therapeutic alliance between African American clients and European American clinicians may be one reason that African Americans do not seek therapy or leave prematurely. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand the lived experience of African American clients in therapeutic relationship with European American clinicians. Rogers' theory of therapeutic alliance, which included empathy as a key concept, served as the conceptual framework of this study. Through purposeful sampling methodology, 10 participants were invited to participate, based on self-report of being African American and having had therapy with a European American clinician. Participants were interviewed regarding their lived experiences in therapy with a European American clinician. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using thematic analysis. There were 13 thematic findings. Findings revealed that more participants reported positive experiences in therapy than did participants who reported negative experiences. Empathy, therapeutic alliance, and trust were key factors to positive outcomes. Knowing and implementing what factors lead to positive alliance has valuable social change implications for European American clinicians and their African American patients. Clinicians should be trained in the importance of empathy, therapeutic alliance, and trust, especially when working in mixed racial therapeutic dyads.