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Dissertation

Vietnamese Americans' perceptions of counseling: A qualitative study

10 December 2004

Abstract

Vietnamese Americans are at high risk for mental health problems due to the multiple losses and traumas that they experienced as a result of their immigration (Flaskerud & Soldevilla, 1986). Yet, our empirical understanding about this population's use and perceptions of mental health treatment is still limited. In an effort to further understand the barriers that may prevent Vietnamese Americans from utilizing mental health services, the present study explored their perceptions of counseling. Participants were recruited from various Vietnamese organizations in Oregon as well as referrals from personal contacts. In-depth interviews were conducted with 12 participants. Four main themes emerged from the interviews. First, all participants described psychotherapy as beneficial. Second, they perceived psychotherapists as experts who could provide them with guidance, advice, and answer to their problems. Third, most participants attributed the causes of mental health problems to difficulties coping with stress and traumatic events. Finally, although all participants perceived psychotherapy as beneficial, the majority indicated that psychotherapy would be a last resort if they were t6 experience problems in life. These findings highlight the importance of doing more outreach within the Vietnamese community as well as conducting research to further understand Vietnamese Americans' mental health needs, their coping mechanisms, and ways to provide culturally sensitive treatment to this population.


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