Date of Award

Spring 5-30-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)


Research has found that racial minorities suffer from poorer mental and physical health in comparison to Whites; and perceived discrimination has been linked to mental and physical health outcomes. Issues of race, power, privilege, language and cultural sensitivity can influence the client provider relationship and clients’ utilization of services. Microaggressions, a term originally used by C. Pierce in the 1970s to denote the subtle, often automatic and nonverbal communications by Whites intended to ‘put down’ African Americans, oppress, create disparities in our society toward marginalized groups and contribute to psychological stress and distress for these groups (Sue et al, 2007). While research outlines the impact overt racism has had on the self-concept of people of color and their perceptions of the mental health system, the topic of microaggressions within the therapeutic context remains largely unexplored. Current research on racial microaggressions has not made the distinction between the experience of first and second generation immigrants. Through the qualitative analysis of eleven second-generation Asian and Latin American women of color’s experiences of racial microaggressions within the therapeutic context, the microaggression experience, means of coping utilized, as well as the impact therapeutic relationship and the participants’ perceptions about therapy were examined. The inquiry resulted in the emergence of the following five constructs: 1) types of racial microaggressions in therapy, 2) influences of client’s reactions to racial microaggressions in therapy, 3) navigating the racially microaggressive experience in therapy, 4) the role of therapists, and 5) practice recommendations. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

Included in

Social Work Commons