Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work


Social stigma is consistently mentioned in the literature as one of the barriers

preventing Latinos from seeking, accessing and remaining in mental health care. This

study focuses specifically on social stigma as a barrier to remain in psychotherapy.

Social stigma is understood as the internalized fear of severe social disapproval for

behaving against acceptable cultural meaning systems. With intersubjective theory as

the analytical framework, this study primarily explores, through a series of focus groups

with Latino mental health service providers of Latino clients, the perceptions those

practitioners have regarding the influence of social stigma on the therapeutic

relationship and the ways they address this issue in their practice. The constant

comparison method from a grounded theory perspective and the software NVivo, as an

auxiliary, were used for data analysis. It was found that social stigma is perceived by

participants as inextricably linked to the engagement process. It is not seen as playing a

significant role in the dropout of clients from therapy. Participants see themselves as

responsible for engaging their clients and eventually addressing any barriers they may

bring to the therapeutic encounter, including social stigma. The most common

strategies reported by participants to fulfill these responsibilities are the use of flexible

boundaries when interacting with clients, and the use of psychoeducation to inform

them about the meaning and implications of the therapeutic process. Participants strongly recommend the use of groups as a therapy modality for effectively engaging

clients and addressing the issue of social stigma.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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