Date of Award

Winter 2000

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Committee Director

Janis Sanchez-Hucles

Committee Member

Barbara Winstead

Committee Member

J. D. Ball

Committee Member

Robin Lewis

Committee Member

Joy Kannarkat


Multicultural issues in psychotherapy have increasingly been recognized as important in the provision of mental health services to our diverse population. Issues such as beliefs about mental health, attitudes toward authority, and even world view affect how clients access and make use of psychotherapy. Cultural views are essential to how one sees the world, and consequently there is much debate about whether clients would benefit from having therapists from the same cultural background. Ethnic identity, or the degree to which a person holds to the beliefs of their culture of origin, consequently plays an important role in psychotherapy. The Portuguese culture is one that has limited areas of settlement, but that accounts for a significant portion of the population in certain areas. They are an understudied population in the literature on multicultural counseling. This study examined the relationships among the variables of client-therapist ethnic match, degree of ethnic identity, and level of satisfaction with therapy. Twenty-four Portuguese-Americans, aged 23 to 58, who were currently in psychotherapy completed questionnaires measuring ethnic identity and satisfaction with therapy. Satisfaction did not differ between those who had ethnically similar therapists and those who had non-Portuguese therapists. However, for those with ethnically matched therapists, satisfaction with therapy was significantly correlated with Portuguese ethnic identity. Clients with high ethnic identity were more satisfied with therapy than clients with low ethnic identity. Clients whose families had immigrated in more recent generations were confirmed to have a higher ethnic identity than those whose families had been in the United States for generations. There was a trend for clients to be more satisfied if their families were involved in therapy, although this was not statistically significant. Clinical implication of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.


A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculties of The College of William and Mary, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Norfolk State University, and Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology through the Virginia Consortium Program in Clinical Psychology.