Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


African American lesbians-Psychology, African American lesbians-Identity, African American lesbians-Mental health services, Social work with African Americans, Social work with lesbians, African American, Women, Queer, Clinical implications


This theoretical study explores the impact on multiple identities on African American queer women's mental health. Its purpose is to understand how intersectionality and relational-cultural theory can inform therapeutic treatment by addressing these issues in clinical social work practice. This study is a review of an extensive range of psychosocial literature that employs multiculturalism, feminist, relational, and psychodynamic practices with people of color in order to understand issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality at the micro individual level—and the related power systems of racism, classism, sexism, and heterosexism at the macro sociocultural level. Through the examination of this literature, the study is an exploration of the clinical implications for working with African American queer women through an intersectional analysis paired with relational-cultural theory. These theoretical perspectives provide a combined approach that is further examined through a composite case study of an African American queer woman in order to offer recommendations for clinical social work practice with this population. The findings of this study suggest that when combined, these theories offer a clinical treatment approach that captures the complexities of these individuals and further illuminates their innate resiliencies and strengths. Intersectionality and relational-cultural theory provide clinical social workers with tools of empowerment that underscore the values of the social work profession and transcend clinical therapeutic treatment with nondominant groups, including African American queer women.




iii, 80 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2011. Includes bibliographical references (p. 73-80)