TitleOvercoming the barriers to mental health treatment services in Korean American populations
NamePark, Paul J. (author), Riggs Skean, Karen (chair), Indart, Monica (co-chair), Rutgers University, Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology,
Korean Americans--Mental health,
Korean Americans--Cultural assimilation
DescriptionThis study examined the experiences of Korean Americans who had gone through the process of considering entering therapy. Eight participants (ages 25 to 35; 6 females, 2 males; and 1st and 2nd generation Korean Americans) took part in two to three interviews and completed a survey that assessed their level of acculturation. The interview, qualitative and open-ended in nature, asked the participants to talk about their lives leading up to their first therapy appointment, the obstacles they faced in entering therapy, and the factors that facilitated their first session with a psychologist. The purpose of the study was multifaceted: 1) to discover the ways that Korean Americans are introduced to therapy, 2) to understand the reasons for their reluctance to enter therapy, and 3) to discuss the process of entering therapy, despite their reluctance to go into therapy. Participants sought out more information about therapy in a state of severe emotional distress and during periods of significant life changes. The most significant challenges were the social ramifications the participants anticipated upon entering therapy and their anxieties associated with meeting and communicating their problems to a stranger. The culturally different conceptualizations of mental health and approaches to coping with psychological issues were additional obstacles as were the participants’ doubts about the relevance and efficacy of therapy. The results indicated that participants were more likely to enter therapy if their problems were seen as impacting their academic performance or career ambitions, or if their problems were severe and unmanageable. Living in therapy-friendly environments with supportive friends who were participating in therapy mitigated the stigma of mental health; moving away from their parents empowered them to choose therapy despite their family’s potentially negative reactions; and viewing therapy as a form of self-care on par with a medical visit or a yoga practice also helped to overcome their negative perceptions of therapy. In managing the negative reactions of their family and friends, participants were able to pursue therapy. These findings may be utilized to improve the effectiveness of mental health outreach to Korean Americans and to inform clinicians in their work with Korean Americans.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Paul J. Park
CollectionGraduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.