Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Haitians-Religious life-United States, Haitian Americans-Religious life, Vodou, Christianity, Identification (Religion), Syncretism (Religion), Religion, Spirituality, Immigrant, Haitian, Haitian American


This cross-sectional exploratory qualitative study highlights the religious/spiritual identity of twelve adult Haitian American immigrants from the Chicago area and New York City using non-probability snowball sampling and a semi-structured interview with open-ended questions. The primary research question was: How have the religious/spiritual identities of Haitians evolved since their immigration to the United States? Subsumed under the primary question was the following: How did adult Haitian immigrants in the United States identify religiously and/or spiritually? How had their religious/spiritual identity changed since their immigration to the United States? How did their religious/spiritual identity affect how they cope with times of increased stress? What were their thoughts on the notion of religious/spiritual syncretism of Christianity and Vodou? Did they feel or anticipate stigma from mental health professionals regarding their religious/spiritual identity? The major findings were: widespread recognition of religious syncretism in the Haitian American immigrant community; the splitting of Vodou because of religious stigma; defensive or reactive legitimization of Vodou; and cognitive dissonance. Vodou and Christianity were concurrent, constant and comprised the baseline of the Haitian American immigrant religious/spiritual world. Clinicians were encouraged to face religious/spiritual biases and provide a safe environment for similarly situated clients to explore their religion/spirituality and how it informs their sense of self.




iii, 55 p. : col. ill. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, 2013. Includes bibliographical references (p. 42-44)