Jua Grace Kim


This study is a needs assessment of first generation immigrant, separated and divorced Christian Korean-American women for the purpose of developing a divorce recovery program. A large number of divorced Korean-American women currently do not receive adequate support from their communities, whether from the church or from their social networks (Kim, B., Titterinton, Kim, Y., & Wells, 2010; Lee & Scott, 2009; Son, 2011). This inadequate support may in part be due to the lack of a research community investigating the issues that Korean-American women face during divorce (Lee & Scott, 2009). The complexity of the divorce recovery process for Korean-American women remains unexamined (Park, 2008; Kim 2010). In addition, the divorce processes in these cases often takes longer than the divorce processes among Caucasian American women. Both Confucianism and gender oppression within Korean-American culture contribute to the longer process of divorce and increase depression and other negative impacts on these women. Understanding these processes provides differentiation and supports the creation of culturally nuanced programs based on key treatment principles developed from the study.

Using the experiences and stories of 20 divorced Korean-American women from a single women’s ministry program in Southern California, this study provides data on a range of contributing factors that influence the recovery process (e.g. duration of marriage, age during divorce, the acculturation process, awareness of feminism, and socioeconomic status). This study presents the experiences of these women using perspectives afforded by social constructionism (SC) and multicultural feminism (MF). As a research approach, Interpretative Phenomenology Analysis (IPA) proved especially useful given the cultural impact of these factors on the recovery process. The findings from the needs assessment from IPA analysis provide important insight into the process of Korean-American women’s divorce and recovery, and form the basis for creating a new therapy program called New Life.

The study analyzes the unique experiences that divorced Korean-American women encounter in their transition from married to unmarried status. The key findings may be summarized by five major themes:

1) The transition from a unilateral to a bilateral relationship with God

2) The development of a new identity that is based on self-worth regardless of marital status

3) A sense of self-progression in transitioning from separation, to divorce, and to post-divorce

4) The gradual change from seeking indirect forms of interactional support, to seeking more direct forms

5) The importance of a relational collectivist public in promoting healing.

This study therefore took into account the perspectives of both the divorced women themselves and the entire social community of which they are a part.

LLU Discipline

Marital and Family Therapy


Counseling and Family Sciences


School of Behavioral Health

First Advisor

Huenergardt, Douglas

Second Advisor

Hernandez, Barbara Couden

Third Advisor

Wilson, Colwick M.

Fourth Advisor

Gober-Park, Carla

Degree Name

Doctor of Marital and Family Therapy (DMFT)

Degree Level


Year Degree Awarded


Date (Title Page)




Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings

Women-Korea; Divorce

Subject - Local

Korean-American Women; Divorce Recovery


Doctoral Project

Page Count


Digital Format


Digital Publisher

Loma Linda University Libraries

Usage Rights

This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.


Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Collection Website


Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives

Included in

Counseling Commons