Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Counselor Education and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. James M. Croteau

Second Advisor

Dr. Mary Anderson


The unique experiences and adversities encountered by midlife lesbian therapists have not been directly investigated. How the midlife lesbian women in this study were influenced by their individual experiences and cultural changes, both in general society and within the mental health profession, are paramount to more fully understanding the adversities, support, and resilience that they experienced while becoming psychologists. Due to the scarcity of empirical literature pertaining to the therapist's experience of resilience and the paucity of empirical literature related to resilience in lesbians, phenomenological research methods were chosen for this study. The goal of this study was to provide a rich description (or essence) of resilience in the lived experiences of midlife, lesbian psychologists in order to enhance the broader psychological understanding of resilience.

Seven women, who had been clinicians for at least 15 years, participated in this study to discover the "essence" of resilience in their experiences. Data was collected during initial and follow-up interviews with participants. Phenomenological methods of data analysis were used to formulate a description that reflects the essential, invariant structure of the experience, or the "essence" of resilience. In this study, two analysis products were created to express the essence of resilience, the general structural description and the collective, analytic narrative. Common themes were identified as descriptive elements to their experiences of resilience. Findings support existing psychological literature on resilience, therapist well-functioning, and the experiences of midlife lesbian women. The findings from this study increase our understanding of resilience beyond what has been discussed in the psychological literature. Implications of findings for psychological research and practice are discussed.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access