Date of Award

Spring 4-28-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Dr. Joretha Bourjolly MSW, PhD

Second Advisor

Mrs. Rev. Rhonda McLean Nur

Abstract

HOW PROFESSIONAL PROVIDERS ADDRESS THE SELF-ESTEEM OF AFRICAN AMERICAN ADOLESCENT GIRLS LIVING IN LOW-INCOME COMMUNITIES

Khidhra Smith Poole MSW, LCSW Dr. Joretha Bourjolly MSW, PhD., Dissertation Chair

Objective: This study aimed to explore how professionals are addressing the self-esteem of African American girls living in low-income communities. Factors such as gender, race, and socioeconomic status play a significant role in the development of a healthy self-esteem. Given the disproportionately high representation of African American youth among individuals living in poverty, their increased exposure to stress in the context of poverty, and the association between stress and psychological symptoms for African American girls, the search for protective factors that foster resilience for low-income African American girls is particularly important.

Methods: A modified grounded theory approach was used to analyze audiotaped transcribed focus group discussions, self-esteem written intervention materials, and direct observation notes from self-esteem interventions conducted by study participants. Fennell’s cognitive model of low self-esteem was used as a theoretical framework for this study to help understand which factors contribute to low self-esteem and as a result need to be considered when improving overall self-esteem among African American adolescent girls living in low-income communities.

Results: Teaching skills and providing opportunities for girls to practice new skills, guided group discussions and talks, exposure to new experiences, addressing basic needs, healthy relationship building, the positive use of self, spiritual/cultural approaches and the lack of family involvement were all themes that emerged when professionals addressed the self-esteem of African American adolescent girls living in low-income communities. The study also discovered that professionals should find ways to include the primary caregiver when addressing self-esteem with this group.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that addressing self-esteem with this group begins with understanding their culture, listening to what they need and observing obstacles faced by these girls to sustain a healthy self-esteem. Implications for social work practice are discussed.

Keywords: African American girls, African American youth, Self-Esteem.

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