Date of Graduation

Spring 5-18-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)


School of Nursing and Health Professions


Clinical Psychology (PsyD)

First Advisor

Michelle Montagno, PsyD

Second Advisor

Angela D. Banks, PhD, RN

Third Advisor

Lisa De La Rue, PhD



Historical trauma may be a fairly new concept for some providers; therefore, this research offers another clinical lens through which providers can view the presenting problem(s) of their African American female patients. This qualitative study used descriptive methodology to examine the range of African American women’s lived experiences connected to historical trauma with two interlocking systems of oppression: race and gender. Two themes and six subthemes were developed from the data collected: Theme A: Prevalence of Racist Experiences Throughout Their Lifespans; and Theme B: Responses to Racism (e.g., Emotions & Coping Mechanisms).

This study gives clinicians insight into the effects of contemporary trauma, historical trauma, and intergenerational trauma as seen through the words of African American women. Additionally, the study offers healthcare professionals a broader understanding of the impact of historical trauma on this oppressed and often neglected population. Providers will be able to recognize and acknowledge the fundamental causes of African American women’s contemporary presenting problems by tracing them to a history of trauma that originated from racism. The findings in this research demonstrate that the theories of historical trauma are important concepts to factor into the mental and physical health treatment of African American women.