Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Counselor Education


Educational Leadership, Counseling, and Foundations

Major Professor

Watson, Zarus

Second Advisor

Herlihy, Barbara

Third Advisor

Bedford, April


Although there is a recognized need for counseling Muslims and underutilization of mental health services by this population is assumed, research regarding the attitudes of Muslims towards counseling is scarce. This qualitative study explored Muslim women's attitudes towards counseling and utilization of counseling services. The influence of religiosity and religious coping as well as the Muslim women's perception of the Imam-counselor liaison, and the influence of the liaison on counseling-seeking attitudes have been examined. Participants consisted of 10 purposefully selected Muslim women from each of five distinct socio-racial categories, including White, Black, Hispanic, Asian, and Arab. Data collection consisted of semi-structured interviews and the administration of a demographic questionnaire. Data analysis involved phenomenological exploration and hermeneutical interpretations of the participants' meaning. The findings indicated that attitudes towards counseling do not indicate actual use of the services. Rather, utilization of religious coping, availability of family and friend support, accessibility of Muslim counselors and counseling within the Muslim community, and the Imamcounselor liaison have a significant impact on counseling-seeking attitudes of the Muslim women. Additionally, the findings indicated variation of counseling utilization among socioracial groups. All non-U.S.-born Arab, Asian, Hispanic, and Black participants reported no use of professional counseling, whereas U.S.-born White, Black, and Hispanic participants and one non-U.S.-born White participant reported utilization of the services. However, rather than linking ethnicity alone to use of counseling, other factors need to be considered as well. The Imam-counselor liaison seems to hold promise towards closing the gap in delivery and utilization of counseling services by Muslims. The findings generated a greater awareness of the xi importance for the inclusion of religious beliefs and practices in therapeutic conversation with Muslim female clients. It is my hope that the findings will facilitate reflection on current counselor and counselor educator practices, and lead to changes that will enhance service provision to this population. In sum, it is hoped that the revealed pertinent areas will be considered within both the counseling room and the classroom.


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