Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Erin Popejoy

Committee Member

Brent Williams

Second Committee Member

Anthony Vajda

Third Committee Member

Stephanie Lusk


African American Women, Experiences, Mental Health, Mental Health Resource, Utilization


The purpose of this study was to examine, explore, and understand the lived experiences of high-achieving Black and Latina women who had utilized mental health services in the last 18 months. The impact of discrimination and stigma is present today and may manifest itself within communities of color when these individuals attempt to access mental health services. The counseling field and counselor education programs are ethically responsible for integrating social justice counseling into coursework and practice. This informs educators and counselors of barriers that may influence and impact best practices for providing mental health services to communities of color. A qualitative design using the transcendental phenomenological approach was used to describe the meaning and experiences ascribed to utilizing mental health care and any perceived stigma. Nine participants were recruited to participated in individual semi-structured interviews consisting of 12-16 questions. Participants were African American women (AAW) with a minimum of two college degrees and a minimum of at least 2 years working in their chosen fields. Data were analyzed using methods outlined by Moustakas’ (1994) data analysis procedures.