Document Type


Date of Degree

Spring 2013

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Rehabilitation and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Portman, Tarrell A

First Committee Member

Duys, David K

Second Committee Member

Smith, Carol Klose

Third Committee Member

Persson, Dorothy M

Fourth Committee Member

Saunders, Jodi L

Fifth Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart W


As the diversity of U.S. society continues to expand and interrelate, so do the training needs of counselors in training and early counseling professionals who encounter these very diverse populations and needs. The purpose of this qualitative research study was to explore the perceptions of advanced masters'-level mental health counseling students and recent graduates regarding multicultural awareness, knowledge, and skills to provide effective counseling services and interventions to African American women who have co-occurring histories of childhood sexual abuse and substance abuse. During a 2-month period, in-depth interviews were conducted with counselors in training and early counseling professionals who were working with African American women at the time of the study or who were likely to work with them in the future.

This study arose partially from the personal experiences of the researcher who is an African American woman and masters'-level counselor who previously encountered women with these co-occurring histories. The study was also derived from a review of current research that indicated this ever-growing population lacks the level of engagement and effective therapeutic services that focus specifically on their needs. The participants engaged in individual interviews consisting of a demographic survey, vignettes, and a structured open-ended interview guided process. Three methods of inquiry were utilized to promote triangulation of the data, thereby ensuring trustworthiness of the study. The results of this study promote awareness of participant perceptions of their multicultural competence as identified in the American Counseling Association Code of Ethics and Association for Multicultural Counseling and Development's Multicultural Counseling Competencies. The findings also contribute to future training and supervision experiences provided by counselor educators and supervisors who are gatekeepers for the profession and who assist in the multicultural development of counselors in training and early counseling professionals. Findings from this study revealed that current practice in multicultural counseling training promoted some level of awareness, knowledge, and/or skills in the ability of counselors in training and early counseling professionals to counsel African American women with dual diagnoses of childhood sexual abuse and substance abuse. Emerging themes from the participants' responses included awareness of personal strengths and limitations in multicultural competencies, significance of the relationship with population-specific clients, desire for increased exposure to population-specific content and interactions during the training process, desire for increased experiential opportunities to promote interactions with lesser known populations, and supportive and diverse supervision experiences. Recommendations for specific multicultural competencies related to counseling African American women with the dual diagnoses of childhood sexual abuse and substance abuse and for future research are included.


African American women, Childhood sexual abuse, Co-occurring, Counselor Preparation, Multicultural competence, Substance abuse


xi, 124 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 117-124).


Copyright 2013 Tiffany Danette Stoner-Harris