Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A DiTomasso, PhD, ABPP

First Advisor

Celine Thompason, PhD

Second Advisor

Stephanie Felgoise, PhD, ABPP

Third Advisor

Tamika Thomas, PsyD


African Americans do not seek or receive mental health services as much as their Caucasian counterparts. There is a myriad of factors that influence the reasons why many African Americans are not seeking services, including, stigma, mistrust, affordability, accessibility, and availability of services. Because of these factors, many African Americans tend to seek psychological help from their religious advisors. Pentecostal Christians’ religious views may directly conflict with seeking services from a mental health professional. This study’s aim was to explore African American clergy members’ perceptions of mental health and to determine how those perceptions influence their subsequent referral practices to mental health professionals. A sample of 13 Pentecostal clergy members were interviewed individually and reported various views of mental illness, which included their perceptions of mental health and illness and the perceived etiology of mental illness. Factors such as clergy members’ levels of education, conservative or liberal views, and religious beliefs about mental illness may influence whether they refer parishioners to secular mental health services.