Theses Doctoral

Cultural Values Religiosity and Spirituality as Predictors of Professional Psychological Help-Seeking Behavior of Black Adults in the United States

Rougier, Cecilia

Many Black adults in the United States experience significant mental health problems in their lives yet are reticent to seek professional psychological help. This underutilization of mental health services has been documented in several studies and national reports. Various factors have been identified over the years as researchers attempted to understand the discrepancy between the psychological services that Black adults need and what they access. With the continued low level of access, researchers have begun to examine this behavior within the cultural context of the Black community. More particularly research has focused on investigating how cultural values impact health behavior and might influence the mental health behavior of Black adults in the United States. This study examined a cluster of cultural values to identify how they might be related to professional psychological help-seeking behavior. More specifically, the study investigated whether collectivism/individualism, fatalism, famalism, spirituality and religiosity would predict professional help-seeking behavior for 343 Black adult men and women from the Northeastern and Southeastern United States. Multiple regression analyses and Chi Square tests were used to analyze the data. A logistic regression model including all of the variables just noted was significantly predictive of whether professional psychological help had been sought. In subsequent univariate analyses controlling for the effects of the other variables in the model, only familism was found to be a unique predictor of professional help-seeking behavior and was negatively related to having sought help. Similar results were obtained for a linear regression examining whether the predictors together would predict intentions to seek counseling. In the presence of all the predictors, spirituality was a positively significant predictor over and above the effects of the other variables. Demographic variables (education, years in the U.S., having a family member in therapy, and having a mental health professional in the social network) were positive predictors of help-seeking behavior and intentions to seek counseling. Age was negatively related to intentions to seek counseling. The study also examined whether intentions to seek counseling could be used as a proxy to actual behavior as proposed by the theory of Planned Behavior, and this was supported by the results of a logistic regression that showed intentions to be a positively significant predictor of help-seeking behavior. Chi Square tests examining the difference between the help-seeking behavior of Black men and women found no significant difference. The implications for practice, research and training were discussed.


  • thumnail for Rougier_columbia_0054D_10124.pdf Rougier_columbia_0054D_10124.pdf application/pdf 1.54 MB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
Counseling Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Gushue, George V.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
October 10, 2011