In this study, we sought to understand which protective factors Black doctoral students from predominantly White institutions (PWI) utilized to persist in their counseling psychology doctoral programs. Past research has examined the potential obstacles these students encounter and the importance of the mentor relationship in the doctoral process. In this study, we sought to explore the factors that motivate Black doctoral students to complete their respective programs, as well as important features in their relationship with their advisor. There were four males and three females with ages ranging from 22 – 41 (M = 27.57 and SD = 6.63) from various counseling psychology programs throughout the country. Within the constructivist-interpretivist research paradigm, interviews were conducted via Skype and analyzed using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis. The study’s findings illuminate important factors that are significant in creating diverse and inclusive educational environments that will allow for more marginalized groups to contribute to the field of psychology at the doctoral level.


counseling psychology, training, Black students, education, interpretative phenomenological analysis

Author Bio(s)

Jessica L. Elliott is a 29-year-old heterosexual, cisgender female of African American and Nicaraguan heritage. At the time of the study, she was in her third year of doctoral study in counseling psychology at a private university in New Jersey. The first author is interested in conducting research on the lived experiences of those within the African Diaspora. During her master’s program she led a study that focused on Black Male college retention rates and the factors that encouraged or hindered their pursuit of a college education. Please direct correspondence to jessica.elliott@student.shu.edu.

Jason D. Reynolds, Ph.D. (Taewon Choi) is a 37-year-old heterosexual, Korean American, transracially adopted, cisgender male. He is an Assistant Professor of counseling psychology at a private university in California. He has previous research experience on identity, transracial adoption, names, and mentorship. Please direct correspondence to jreynolds6@usfca.edu.

Minsun Lee, Ph.D. is a heterosexual, Korean American, cisgender female, who is an assistant professor in a counseling psychology program. She researches bicultural identity and the intersections of gender, race, and culture. She has previous experience supervising student research on Black Americans’ racial identity, critical consciousness, and sociopolitical action. Please direct correspondence to minsun.lee@shu.edu.


We would like to thank Kalya Castillo, MSEd for all of her help and efforts with this study.

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