Theses Doctoral

Help Seeking Patterns of Black Women in Selected Black Churches

Peterman, Phylis J.

This study explores help seeking patterns of Black women in Black churches. The intent of the study, is to examine use of a historically vital component of the Black community and to ascertain its role in the support system of a population. The theory of shared functions is used to look at the utilization of different support systems, and to understand the role of the church as a bureaucratic institution with primary characteristics and functions.

The data was collected over a six month period, at six Black churches in the Essex County area of New Jersey. The information is derived from a questionnaire administered to 196 women. In the analysis of the data, participants are grouped by socioeconomic status and size of church they attend. The hypotheses are: (1) The lower the socioeconomic status of the church member, the more likely the minister will be selected for help. (2) members of smaller churches are more likely to select the minister as a vehicle for help, than those in larger churches. (3) The minister is more likely to be selected for help with concerns classified as non-uniform. (4) The more active a woman is in church life, the more likely she is to choose the minister as a help source.

The findings confirm, women classified as low income and those active in church life, utilize their pastor more than other women in the study. The findings do not confirm, hypothesis 2 and 3, but show that women from large churches utilize the minister more than women in smaller churches and that the minister is selected as a help source in a range of concerns. The data highlights, that women see the minister as the primary source for help and that for many, the pastor is as important, as the relative or professional counselor in seeking assistance.

The implications of this study suggest the profession of social work, seek avenues of collaboration with local ministers to offer support and information on the concerns members bring. The findings also suggest the profession find ways to accurately access client's church involvement and support from the religious community.


More About This Work

Academic Units
Social Work
Thesis Advisors
Jones, James
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2015