Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Family Therapy


Christopher Burnett

Committee Member

Anne Rambo

Committee Member

Christine A. Beliard


The purpose of this research is to explore the experiences of Black doctoral degree holders’ interactions with their White professors in a Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) program. There are a number of studies on the effectiveness of White professors and Black graduate students, but few focus specifically on the field of Marriage and Family Therapy. This study employed existential phenomenological methodology to examine Black MFT doctoral degree holders’ perceptions of their White professors. The experiences of six Black doctoral degree holders who attended COAMFTE-accredited programs were examined. The process involved an in-depth semi-structured interview. The study also revealed five major themes describing the meanings of Black doctoral degree holders’ experiences. These five areas of concern were: Perceptions of world: The program; Perception of others: White Professors; Perception of self: Participation; Perception of self: Participants; Implications for Black students; and Implications for White professors. The study suggests implications for future research on the lives of doctoral students, specifically, Black doctoral students’ who are enrolled in marriage and family therapy programs. Recommendations are offered on improving future interactions between Black students and White Professors based on changes by MFT programs, White professors, and Black doctoral students.

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