Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Deirdre Lanesskog


This study seeks to understand the perceptions of African American parents on preventive family therapy and their help-seeking behaviors. Specifically, this study aims to identify the factors that influence African American families in engaging in preventive family therapy and the barriers to accessing treatment. The data was collected through two group interviews that consisted of a total of 11 African American parents residing in Riverside County and San Bernardino County. The findings indicate that: (a) African American parents sought therapy primarily for crisis; (b) Alternatives to therapy were viewed as being just as effective; (c) Barriers to treatment include institutional fear, lack of diversity, and stigmatization; and (d) African Americans held positive views of therapy and individuals who received treatment. These findings highlight the perceptions of an underserved community that is disproportionately represented in child welfare and provides practitioners with strategies to develop effective interventions.

Recommendations for future social work practice, policy, and research include continued community outreach and mental health awareness campaigns, partnership with faith-based organizations in developing youth mentoring programs, and the need for research centered on current and former African American child welfare clients.

Included in

Social Work Commons