Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2018

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Psychological and Quantitative Foundations

First Advisor

Altmaier, Elizabeth

First Committee Member

Kivlighan, Martin

Second Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy

Third Committee Member

Schreier, Barry

Fourth Committee Member

Ehly, Stewart

Fifth Committee Member

Johnson, Susan


Within the United States, African Americans account for 13% of the entire population, making them the second largest minority group. A notable concern is the rate at which African Americans fail to utilize both medical and mental health services. Researchers have long examined possible factors, such as stigmas, barriers, and accessibility, as reasons why African Americans underutilize psychological help. Overlooked is the potential influence of adverse childhood experiences (ACE). The term ACE encompasses ten major domains, ranging from emotional abuse to parental divorce/separation, all of which have been found to negatively influence individuals’ well-being. As such, this study examined the association between African American women’s adverse childhood experiences and help seeking attitudes. Data for this study were gathered from 64 African American female college students. Adverse childhood experiences were measured with the Traumatic Experiences Checklist (TEC) and help seeking attitudes were assessed with the Attitudes Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help-Short Form (ATSPPH-SF). Results demonstrated scores reflecting childhood traumatic events for violence, death, and legal involvement were negatively related to attitudes toward help seeking. The results of this study highlight the need for continued research regarding ACE for African American women in college settings. Specific implications for this study include outreach development in university counseling centers focused on the association between childhood trauma, violence/legal involvement, and intersectionality. Programming of this nature may provide a critical link to increase this population’s utilization of mental health services.

Keywords: African American women, ACE, help seeking


ACE, African American women, Help Seeking


viii, 81 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 70-81).


Copyright © 2018 LaNeisha Waller

Available for download on Saturday, August 31, 2019