School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


June Tyson


African American Mental Health Services, African American, Christian, Mental Health, Emotional Healing


Counseling | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this phenomenological study is to examine what is required for conservative Christians in the African American community to experience mental health counseling as a potential resource for emotional healing. The theories guiding this study are person-centered and experiential with emphasis on the Gestalt approach. Person-Centered theory was created by Carl Rogers over 40 years ago to encourage clinicians to honor their clients’ lead in their treatment process while discovering their own solutions. Experiential therapy is a humanistic approach to therapy, which will also be implemented in this research. An experiential approach to counseling prioritizes the need for genuine, empathetic, therapeutic relationship and focuses on the experience of the client during the session. The most significant experiential approach to this research is Gestalt therapy because it focuses on the here and now of the interviewee’s experience. Participants will include eight members of African American churches from the southern geographic regions of the United States. Using the information gathered during the interviews, the researcher will better understand (a) their personal experiences with the mental health profession, (b) their perceptions of mental health, (c) their current coping skills for emotional healing, (d) as well as gain insight as to how to integrate African American religious culture and mental health. The results of this research will explain the disconnect between the mental health field and the African American community.

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