Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Megan J. Murphy


The importance of increasing cultural awareness and sensitivity when working with diverse clients has been expressed within the literature in the field of Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) and incorporated into many MFT training programs. Research specifically related to the Latino culture has identified that Mexican-Americans' under use professional mental health services. Gender differences between help-seeking behaviors in Mexican-Americans have also been identified which indicate that women seek professional mental health services more frequently than men. The aim of this study was two-fold: (1) to provide an opportunity to hear the voices of 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican-American women regarding their help-seeking behaviors, and (2) to gain information regarding their knowledge of the field of MFT. An interpretive qualitative methodology was utilized which was informed by social constructivism and feminist worldviews. Interviews were conducted with seven 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican-American women. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed verbatim. The transcriptions were then coded into categories which were comprised of themes and sub-themes. Member checks were performed to ensure that the participants felt their voices had been accurately represented. The main themes which emerged included the importance of seeking family and friends for support for mental health or relationship issues, a hesitancy to seek professional mental health services due to stigma, and the expectation that one can handle problems on her own. The importance of feeling heard and valued by the therapist, and a sense of openness from the therapist were also identified as themes when professional mental health services was sought. Limited knowledge about the field of MFT was expressed by the participants although most did believe that a therapist with specialized knowledge about family or relationship issues would be helpful should they need to seek therapy for such issues. The results have implications for clinicians working with 2nd and 3rd generation Mexican-American women as well for cultural awareness and sensitivity trainings for marriage and family therapists.


Copyright Owner

Ashley Marie Barrera



Date Available


File Format


File Size

160 pages