Psychology, Professional

Date of Paper/Work

Winter 1-16-2020

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Lenny Jennings


African Americans historic trauma has largely gone untreated by U.S. mental health providers (Washington & Washington 2007). This trauma can be linked to a number of mental health disparities found in our society today. As a result of African American history and disparities in mental health, it is plausible that African American therapists may develop different characteristics than their white counterparts. Jennings and Skovholt (1999) inspired a wealth of research from other countries to address the specific characteristics of master therapists in their country. Jennings et al.’s (2016) qualitative meta-analysis of seven international master research studies identified common threads among international master therapists including the importance of relationship, professional development, comfort with ambiguity, humility, and experience. The current study replicated the method of the original master therapist research (Jennings & Skovholt, 1999) to identify characteristics of African American master therapists.

Seven African American practitioners were identified as master therapists using snowball sampling and peer nomination procedures. Participants selected were nominated at least four times by professional colleagues. The results supported previous master therapist research findings, but also include several culturally specific findings, including the importance of knowledge and exposure to African American culture in the development of African American master therapists and the use of spirituality in session.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.