Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Ed.D. Doctor of Education

Academic Discipline

Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Martin Wesley

Second Advisor

Dr. Marguerite Chabau


African American women victims of domestic violence (DV) present with unique experiences, requiring counselors to possess multicultural competencies that can cultivate an alliance in which this cultural group feels comfort and trust in the therapeutic process. While there is an awareness of the complexities in counseling African American women who experience DV, gaps in research reveal a need for counselors to improve cultural competency and gain a contextual understanding of the factors that influence this population’s help-seeking behaviors. The purpose of this research was to examine counselors’ experiences with and understanding of multicultural competence in developing a therapeutic alliance with African American women who experience DV. Utilizing a phenomenological method of inquiry, 11 counselors in varied mental health disciplines were interviewed to explore how, if, and to what extent multicultural competence impacts the development of their working relationships with African American women DV victims. The findings of this research indicated that cultivating a positive therapeutic alliance requires counselors to have an understanding of the following: factors that encourage clients’ belief in the therapeutic process, individual experiences of African American women DV victims that can influence the therapeutic alliance, the impact of systemic racism on help-seeking behaviors, and culturally responsive interventions and approaches that support victims’ safety and well-being. Implications for professional practice, along with recommendations for future research, are discussed.