Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Wong, Daniel W.

Committee Member

Hall, Kimberly Renee

Committee Member

Justice, Cheryl A.

Committee Member

Xu, Jianzhong

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Counselor Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology and Foundations


Victims of trauma are likely to experience diverse social, psychological, and physical problems, but very little is known about how these experiences impact Vocational Rehabilitation employment outcomes and other aspects of life. This research provides detailed experiences of the impact of trauma on the lives of three young adult African American women with disabilities who live in one of the poorest states in the southern part of the country. Each participant shared their experiences of trauma and the onset of impairment early in their adult lives and the impact that it had on their employment and other aspects of life. Trauma that participants endured had a significant impact on their lives, and they experienced life after the trauma very differently than before the trauma. Their impact of trauma was categorized into 5 key experiences which shaped their experiences of life following the trauma. These 5 key experiences were concluded as final themes and included 4 additional subthemes for 2 of the major themes. The impact of trauma was expressed in terms of (a) unfavorable physical condition and pain; (b) concerns regarding employers and service providers, accommodations and accessibility, compromised immune system, and disability benefits; (c) lack of confidence surrounding employment; (d) loss of independence, leisure and social participation, relationships, and employment; and (e) new perspective in terms of attitude. Findings in this research offered insight about how experiences of trauma affect employment, health, social participation, and leisure, and other aspects of life. Practical propositions about how to better meet the needs of this group in the rehabilitation process were provided. Ensuring necessary supports, including knowledgeable employers and service providers, allow African American women with disabilities to minimize loss and concerns, increase confidence, and encourage social participation leisure, employment, good overall health, and wellbeing. Failing to address these existing experiences may result in continued disproportionately harsh employment, economic, and health consequences for African American women with disabilities including a lack of opportunity for financial stability, self-sufficiency, sustainment of mental and physical health, and overall better quality of life.



Trauma||Spinal Cord Injury||African American women with disabilities||Multiple Sclerosis||employment