The current study examined the psychotherapy experiences of Pacific Islander and Asian American students at a large intermountain university on the continental United States. We used archival data collected over a 17-year span to investigate the psychotherapy utilization, presenting concerns, reported distress levels and psychotherapy outcomes of Pacific Islander students compared to Asian American students. In an effort to address the current and problematic practice of combining Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders into a homogeneous category, subgroup outcomes of Pacific Islander students were compared to Asian American students to highlight any significant differences and similarities. Results indicated significant differences between Pacific Islander and Asian American students in terms of amount of psychotherapy sessions attended and length of treatment in days. Asian American students were more likely to remain in therapy during the first 100 days and eight sessions. We found significant differences between both groups on several items assessed in the Presenting Problem Checklist and the Family Concerns Survey. Pacific Islander students reported significantly more traumatic experiences occurring in their family. We also found significant differences in the presenting concerns of both populations. Additionally, on the OQ-45, Pacific Islander students answered questions regarding risk factors significantly different from Asian American students. Clinicians are encouraged to understand the values and nuances of collectivist groups including Pacific Island and Asian cultures. It is recommended that clinicians and counseling centers reach out to Pacific Islander students on their campuses to inform them about mental health services. Counseling centers are encouraged to gather information on the reasons for therapy termination.



College and Department

David O. McKay School of Education; Counseling Psychology and Special Education



Date Submitted


Document Type





Pacific Islander students, Asian American students, university counseling centers, utilization, psychotherapy outcome



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Education Commons