Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology



First Advisor

Lawerence Gerbstein


Puerto Ricans are the second largest Latino group in this country. Although this is a group whose demographics are changing and will probably be major consumers of counseling services in the near future, there is very little research on Puerto Rican families. A major problem identified in the mental health literature with Latinos is the underutilization of services. This study attempts to explore Puerto Rican family functioning and utilization of family counseling services.

This investigation examines the validity and applicability of the Family Functioning Scale (FFS) using a Principal Components Analysis with varimax rotation with a sample of Puerto Ricans. The FFS was found to be partially successful in measuring aspects of Puerto Rican family functioning. To further assess the validity of the FFS with Puerto Ricans, the results of this study are compared to the results in two other studies, one using a multicultural sample and one that did not.

Acculturation, using the Puerto Rican Acculturation Scale (PRAS) was used to assist in determining whether acculturation impacted the results on the FFS and with family therapy utilization. Further, it was also intended to separate acculturation from other possible explanations for results (confounding variables), such as socioeconomic status and educational level. Unfortunately, the Maximum likelihood factor analysis with varimax rotation did not provide evidence that the PRAS could measure acculturation adequately in this sample. Therefore, the results could not be analyzed further to determine acculturation levels. Although this was the case, differences were found with respect to Puerto Ricans compared to other groups. However, because acculturation could not be measured adequately, the results are open to interpretation. Acculturation may have influenced the results, but the outcomes could have been affected by socioeconomic level, a powerful confounding variable in this study. Furthermore, a combination of factors may have affected the results.

In terms of family therapy utilization, family counseling appears to be a viable option for Puerto Ricans, given this group's strong orientation toward the family. The results of this study support this assertion in that among those who received family counseling, there was a lower drop out rate, and the majority of the subjects found family counseling to be very useful. Although this was the case, a larger percentage of Puerto Ricans nevertheless failed to utilize counseling services, and a large percentage indicated that they did not have problems that may be helped by family counseling.



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