Department of Family Therapy Dissertations and Applied Clinical Projects

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Family Therapy


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


Christine A. Beliard

Committee Member

Christopher F. Burnett

Committee Member

Anne H. Rambo


The "self" of the therapist is an essential factor in the therapeutic process (Baldwin, 2000) and is impacted by intersections of identities and prejudicial treatment, which creates unjust conditions for Black women in society and academia. Nonmembers of the predominant culture can find difficulties in navigating the "self" of the therapist, which reflects personal and social experiences. In academia, the Black woman's identity continues to face problems of exclusion and oppressive related situations, which can complicate the learning process (Ong, Wright, Espinosa, & Orfield, 2011). Several studies have explored the challenges ofAfrican-American students and faculty, in MFT graduate programs, who face cultural, racial, and recruitment issues (Wilson & Stith, 1993) as well as underrepresentation as professors (Harris-McKoy, Gutierrez, Strachan & Winley, 2017). The purpose of this study is to explore "self" complexities that impact individuality and professional development, as a therapist of color, and to understand the critical role of the use of self intherapy training settings. Writing an autoethnographic inquiry on my personal experiences while training as a Black, single, female MFT doctoral student address identity struggles, core issues, and theinterconnected nature of sociocultural factors that overlap with identities. This study is written from a feminist informed perspective, which recognizes unjust treatment of marginalized populations (Reinhart, 1992) and provides a way of writing that reflects my version of reality in society and academia, as a Black woman. The thematic analysis presents five categories and occurring themes that gives context to my lived experiences, personally and professionally, are embedded, shaped, and essentially defined.