School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


Jeanne Brooks


Self-Compassion, Resilience, African American Women, Biological-Psychological-Social-Spiritual, Self Compassion Scale, Resilience Theory


Counseling | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychology


This study aimed to fill an important gap in the literature by exploring the role of self-compassion in resilience among African American women. This study was an investigation of some of the challenges African American women face in their lived experiences that impact their self-compassion and to provide an understanding of the role self-compassion plays in their pursuit of higher education. A qualitative design with a phenomenological approach and thematic analysis for gathering and extrapolating primary themes and subthemes from the participant data sets was used. Semistructured interviews were conducted with five African American women ages 27–58 years who had attended predominantly White universities. Each participant answered three scripted questions and reviewed responses on Self-Compassion Scale questions (administered previously) on which they scored 4 or 5. Six emerging themes were identified (a) self-compassion is lacking, (b) self-compassion is prevalent, (c) self-compassion is restorative and reassuring, (d) self-compassion promoted motivation and determination, (e) self-comparisons and self-critical, and (f) perseverance and resilience. Self-compassion was found to be both lacking and prevalent among African American women. Perseverance and resilience was realized as persuasive in the role of self-compassion in the participants’ lived experiences. However, self-comparisons and self-critical factors cannot be ignored as significant contributors to self-compassion for African American women who are pursuing higher education. In future studies, larger and more diverse samples are suggested for enveloping broader and more inclusive research to better understand how self-compassion is viewed among African American women pursuing higher educational attainment.