Date of Award

Spring 2019

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation



First Advisor

Dodie Limberg


Furthering a strengths-based approach to mental health and wellness requires researchers to explore the role of cultural systems, sociohistorical factors and the intersectionality of race and gender as factors impacting wellness. To fill the existing gap in the literature describing perceptions of wellness through a cultural lens, I examined experiences of wellness among African American women who manifest the archetype of the Strong Black Woman. Working within the client’s perspective, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis was employed to analyze data collected during semi-structured in-depth interviews and focus groups. I conducted the interviews to explored participant personal and social experiences with wellness. Super-ordinate themes were pulled from the data and used to describe how characteristic traits of the archetype were internalized during childhood and had implications for how participants perceived and prioritized the importance of self-care, a crucial component of wellness. Participants demonstrated use of the archetype to combat experiences of racism and microaggressions in the work place and emphasized the dual roles of the archetype as a mitigator of both racial stress and well-being.


© 2019, Donya D. Wallace