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Maria Belen Martinez, Matthew W. Kirkhart, Ph.D.

Attitude towards Counseling, Distress, Self-Concealment, Perceived Social Support, Acculturation, and Help-Seeking Behavior among Ethnic Minority College Students

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Studies consistently find that although ethnic minority students seem to be no less distressed than white Americans, ethnic minority groups, including African American, Asian American, and Hispanic, are less likely to seek professional psychological services (Kim & Omizo, 2003; Sue et al., 1991; Wang et al., 2005). Previous studies have solely compared ethnic minority students to white students and have only focused on a limited number of variables. Therefore, this study explored the differences in help-seeking behavior between ethnic minority students who seek help, as compared to those who do not across multiple essential factors that have been shown to have direct and indirect effects on help-seeking behavior (Cramer, 1999; Liao et al., 2005).

The participants were 88 undergraduate ethnic minority students currently enrolled at Loyola University Maryland; 36 students were currently receiving help or had a history of seeking psychological services, and 52 students had never sought help before. Measures used in the study were: the Attitude Toward Seeking Professional Psychological Help – Shortened Form (ATSPPH-SF), the Psychotherapy Outcome Assessment and Monitoring System – College Counseling Version (POAMS-CCV) (Symptoms Scale), the Self-Concealment Scale (SCS), the Social Provisions Scale (SPS), the Vancouver Index of Acculturation (VIA), and a demographic questionnaire.

Results supported the hypotheses that participants who seek psychological services have a significantly more positive attitude towards seeking professional help for psychological problems and significantly higher levels of distress than those who have never sought services. In addition, results revealed that participants who do not seek psychological services have a significantly lower level of self-concealment than those who seek help. Data from the current study also identified the main reasons why students do not seek services, and why they initially seek help, and continue or discontinue with services.

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