Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Brian Dew

Second Advisor

Johnathan Orr

Third Advisor

Gregory Brack

Fourth Advisor

Kristen Varjas


Help-seeking attitudes are the tendencies to seek or resist professional psychological services during crises or after prolonged psychological difficulties. Although African American undergraduate college students are just as distressed as students from other racial and ethnic backgrounds, they are less likely to seek psychological counseling at their college counseling centers. The primary focus of this research was to assess help-seeking attitudes of African American undergraduate college students attending predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Furthermore, scant attention has been devoted to examining the impact of perceived racism and racial identity development on the African American undergraduates' willingness to seek out psychological assistance. For this study, 186 participants completed a sociodemographic survey and four measures including, the Attitudes Towards Seeking Professional Psychological Help Scale (ATSPPHS) Short Form (Fischer & Farina, 1995), Intentions to Seek Counseling Instrument (ISCI; Cash et. al., 1975; Kelly & Acher, 1995), the Perceived Racism Scale (PRS; McNeilly et al., 1996), and the Cross Racial Identity Scale (CRIS; Cross & Vandiver, 2001). Results from quantitative analyses suggest that positive racial identity is related to higher rates of accessing counseling. Help-seeking attitudes were the biggest predictors of intentions to seek counseling, and perceived racism is negatively correlated with intentions to seek counseling. These results suggest that racial identity development and the campus climate of PWIs impact the rates at which African American undergraduate students seek services at their college counseling centers. Implications for counseling and directions for future research are also discussed.