A qualitative study: African Americans' perceptions of family therapy and treatment

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The purpose of this qualitative study was to examine and explore African Americans’ perception of family therapy and treatment as it pertains to key barriers of service utilization. Specifically, the study examined the role that culture plays on the lack of service utilization as well as how cultural factors shape the attitudes and beliefs of African Americans regarding mental health, family therapy and treatment. In addition, this study was designed to link historical and present day ecological systems that continue to impact the African American community. Three separate focus groups were utilized to explore the research question that guided this study: How do African Americans perceive family therapy and treatment? 18 African Americans, 25 years of age and older discussed their perceptions, attitudes and beliefs regarding family therapy and treatment. Focus groups were audio recorded and transcribed for analysis. Six themes emerged; cultural understanding, cultural barriers, cause of mental strain, coping mechanisms, cultural support, and cultural communication. Findings support previous research that highlight the uniqueness of African Americans and the important role that culture plays on treatment seeking behaviors. Suggestions for overcoming barriers and future research are discussed.

African Americans, Family therapy, Mental health, Treatment