Exploring the Perspectives and Behaviors Regarding Help-Seeking and Knowledge about Marriage and Family Therapy in 2nd and 3rd Generation Mexican-American Women

Thumbnail Image
Barrera, Ashley
Major Professor
Megan J. Murphy
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Human Development and Family Studies

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies focuses on the interactions among individuals, families, and their resources and environments throughout their lifespans. It consists of three majors: Child, Adult, and Family Services (preparing students to work for agencies serving children, youth, adults, and families); Family Finance, Housing, and Policy (preparing students for work as financial counselors, insurance agents, loan-officers, lobbyists, policy experts, etc); and Early Childhood Education (preparing students to teach and work with young children and their families).


The Department of Human Development and Family Studies was formed in 1991 from the merger of the Department of Family Environment and the Department of Child Development.

Dates of Existence

Related Units

  • College of Human Sciences (parent college)
  • Department of Child Development (predecessor)
  • Department of Family Environment (predecessor)

Journal Issue
Is Version Of

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.

Sat Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2011