Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Stephen Craig

Second Advisor

Dr. Patrick Munley

Third Advisor

Dr. E. Brooks Applegate

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Lonnie E. Duncan


Empirical data has shown that Black American churchgoers have generally higher baseline rates of religious involvement than the general U.S. population, as well as higher rates of religious involvement than most Black Americans (Chatters, Taylor & Lincoln. 1999). Researchers have noted the influence of religion on the help seeking attitudes of Black Americans (Abernethy, Houston, Mimms, & Boyd-Franklin, 2006) and have also identified counselor characteristics preferred by Black Americans when seeking help for mental health problems (Atkinson, Furlong, & Poston, 1986). However, Black American churchgoers are rarely identified as the target population in empirical studies and little is known about the relationships between their religious faith, help seeking attitudes and preferences for counselor characteristics. Researchers have called for expanded studies to examine both the role of religion and the potential of the Black Church to provide mental health services for Black American churchgoers. This study responds to this call by exploring the relationships between Black American churchgoers' religious faith, mental health help seeking attitudes and preferences for counselor characteristics.

Participants were Black American churchgoers (N=276) who attended Black churches in two Midwestern states. Participants completed a survey packet that consisted of four instruments: a demographic questionnaire, the Age-Universal Religious Orientation Scale (AUROS) (Gorsuch & Venable, 1983), Fischer and Turner's (1970) Attitude toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (ATSPPHS), and a modified version of the Preferences for Counselor Characteristics Scale (Atkinson, Furlong & Poston, 1986).

The Bradley-Terry-Luce (BTL) (as cited in McGuire & Davison, 1991) model of weighted least squares regression analysis was used to determine if differences existed in participants' preferences for the following characteristics of a counselor relative to the participants': similar religion, similar attitudes and values, more educated, similar personality and older age. Results of the weighted least squares regression analysis indicated that the most salient characteristics of a counselor for participants in this study were similar religion, more educated and similar attitudes and values. Implications for the counseling profession and counselor education training are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access