The opinions and attitudes of female Samoan university students toward seeking professional counselling
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The purpose of this study was to explore some of the perspectives and attitudes of Samoan female students, in a New Zealand university, toward seeking professional counselling. Using a qualitative approach and thematic analysis for analysing the data, this study used semi-structured interviews via in-depth and open-ended questions. The participants recruited for the individual interviews were six female students, of Samoan ethnicity, aged between 20 and 50 years. One focus group, consisting of 10 Samoan female students was conducted. The participants were selected using snowball sampling. The findings of the study indicated that the attitudes of Samoan female students toward seeking counselling were diverse, particularly in their beliefs about the effectiveness of counselling. Almost all the students believed that counselling would be useful, if they had a severe psychological problem or disorder that needed serious attention. Samoan female students spoke about a variety of concerns (e.g. shame and stigma) and factors (e.g. cost and time), that would influence their choice about whether to ask for counselling or not. For some of the participants the most frequently stated motive for avoiding psychological help were issues around the shame and stigma associated with going to counselling. Students reported that to be culturally sensitive one cannot generalize everything, and expect a Pacific person to fully understand the ways of another culture, and vice versa, because it is not a one-size-fits-all type outcome for the individual. Although this research is an explorative one, it provides insight into the perceptions and attitudes for this little researched group of students and has implications for how universities and other health providers can better support this group.