Black utilization of college counseling centers: Counselors' perceptions and recommendations for greater representation

Gloria Kasapyr Lovett (1998)

This dissertation explores the multiple perceptions of college counseling centers' personnel in order to understand, in depth, how greater utilization by Black students was achieved at one American college counseling center. The programs that counselors developed specifically for Black students are investigated, as well as multicultural issues that pertain to college counseling. The study attempts to uncover, through interviews with counseling center staff, the multiple impressions of the center's historical transition from lesser to greater utilization by Black students. The literature reviewed provides a brief overview of organizational management in order to furnish a theoretical reference with which to comprehend how programs were created within the prevailing system. The change in utilization patterns by Black students in this college counseling center were examined by exploring counselors' perceptions of therapeutic, academic, and environmental factors that may have contributed to greater utilization. Black students' specific needs were reviewed in the areas of: counselor training, social alienation, racial/cultural identity models, and clients' preferences for counselors. Qualitative methodology, which included interviews with five psychologists, was used to analyze the data that was collected from the college counseling personnel regarding their perceptions of how greater utilization was achieved. Outreach, counselor training, hiring practices, personal commitment to minority students, and organizational management emerged as the most significant factors in contributing to greater Black utilization of the counseling center. These findings could contribute to other college counseling centers' and community mental health agencies' understanding of the issues involved in attracting more Blacks to use their facilities.