Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Catherine Y. Chang, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Melissa Zeligman

Third Advisor

Franco Dispenza

Fourth Advisor

Asha Dickerson


People of color (POC; African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Latinx individuals) report to underuse mental health services in contrast to their White counterparts (Kim & Zane, 2016; Lou, Reddy & Hinshaw, 2010; SAMSHA, 2017; Yasui, Hipwell, Stepp, & Keenan, 2015). The barriers to counseling use reported for POC were poverty, insurance cost, mental illness, and stigma. Additionally, psycho-cultural barriers such as racial identity, discrimination, and self-stigma of mental health attributed to POC’s underuse of psychological services (Cheng, Kwan, & Sevig, 2013). However, these findings are limited to monoracial POC, and no studies to date have investigated these factors in Biracial individuals. There is a paucity of research examining the barriers to mental health use for Multiracial individuals. The Multiracial population is one of the fastest growing racial groups in the United States, and this population is expected to double by 2060 (Pew Research, 2015). This study addressed the gap in the literature by investigating the influences of racial identity integration, discrimination, and self-stigma on Biracial individuals’ intentions to seek counseling. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the current literature organized in themes: mental health disparity (i.e., counseling utilization percentage for POC), racial identity (Biracial identity development models), discrimination (i.e., monoracism and microaggressions) and self-stigma (mental health stigmatization). Chapter 2 was a proposed study of the psychocultural factors (racial identity, discrimination, and self-stigma) impacts on mental health utilization of 202 individuals identifying with two racial groups (Biracial). At this time, one study has been found investigating Biracial individuals’ attitudes toward counseling (Constantine & Gainor, 2004). Results of this study revealed that self-stigma of seeking (psychological) help did moderate the relationship between Biracial identity and intentions to seek counseling. The relationship between self-stigma of seeking (psychological) help did not moderate the relationship between intention to seek counseling. The findings signify the need to further understand the psychocultural barriers for Biracial individuals’ attitudes and use of counseling. Limitation, counseling implications, and future research are discussed.


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