Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Counseling

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Susan Kashubeck-West, Ph.D.


Angela D. Coker, Ph.D.

Sha-Lai Williams, Ph.D.

Jerome E. Morris, Ph.D.


Racism has permeated all aspects of American life (Bell, 1992) and many Black communities suffer racial trauma as a result. Mental health professionals have an ethical responsibility to develop strategies to serve the needs of diverse communities. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the experiences of Black mental health professionals who serve individuals experiencing racial trauma. Using Critical Race Theory as a theoretical framework and qualitative Thematic Analysis as a methodology, twenty-three (23) Black mental health professionals were asked the following questions: (1) What are the experiences of Black mental health professionals working with clients who have experienced racial trauma; (2) How do Black mental health professionals meet the personal and professional challenges of serving clients who experience racial trauma; and (3) What competency training do mental health professionals need to promote and enhance their effectiveness when working with individuals who experience racial trauma? Results of the study highlighted four themes: (1) Rewards and Challenges; (2) The Importance of Self-Care; (3) The Importance of Implementing Culturally-Informed Clinical Strategies; and (4) The Importance of Engaging in Professional Growth and Development. Discussion of the findings in addition to implications and recommendations for clinical practice, training, curriculum development, and research are included.