As we settle into year two of this COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health impact of the lockdowns, physical distancing and isolation, mask wearing, increased racial trauma, and a global economic crisis, has had a disproportionate impact on the worldwide Black community. When you stop to think of all we have experienced over the last year, it is no wonder that there has been an increase in mental health challenges that have led to increased efforts to find a Black therapist (in the hopes of finding representative mental health support). One of the questions I always get, as a psychotherapist is, “How do I find a Black therapist who is a good fit for me?”
Therapy can be helpful in a number of ways. Whether you are ready to heal from a childhood trauma, deal with the grief of a miscarriage, or need to find closure from a bad break up, therapy can help you to unlearn negative patterns of behavior, gain clarity, and use healthier coping strategies that are more in line with your long term life goals. Here’s some tips on how to find the right therapist for you:
One of the first things to do when looking for a therapist is to let go of the stigmas you may have about therapy. Trust me, I have heard it all: “Therapy is for white people”, “What happens in the family should stay in the family”, “Your problems are not any worse than other people’s”, “You don’t need therapy, you need prayer!”,
The people in your friend-circle or family members who hold on to these stigmas may think they have your best intention in mind; but what they are actually doing is very harmful and not supportive of your healing journey. Finding the right therapist is not only important to building trusting therapeutic relationships, but finding the right fit is the most important factor in having a successful therapy outcome.
When choosing the right therapist, remember that the school they attended or the graduate degree they hold may not always tell you who will be the best choice. The only way to figure out who is the best therapist choice for you is to interview different therapists for the job!
Here are some key tips to use when looking for a therapist:
- Create a list:
- Write out a list of the issues you are struggling with and would like to get help on. Also note down the different areas of your life experiences that you want to talk about in therapy.
- What are your therapy goals:
- Having a rough ideal of the goals you have for therapy can help you identify your expectation for the therapy process. This can also help you to understand what, “getting better”, means to you.
- Search for a therapist:
- Find a few therapists whose therapy focus/niche is within the areas that you need help with.
- Think about safety and trust:
- Who do you think you would feel most safe with and trust with your personal information?
- Can you get a referral from a trusted medical professional and/or friend?
- Learn about the different therapy techniques, models or ways of providing therapy that would fit with your personality and mental health challenge.
- Ask for a consultation and interview the therapist:
- Have a list of questions ready to ask to help you with the interview (see below). Don’t be afraid to ask your questions.
- The answers to these questions will help you figure out if you want to work with this therapist or not.
- Interview more than one therapist in order to gage the fit.
- Don’t be afraid to:
- Say, “I don’t think you are a good fit for me”.
- Try a few sessions to see how it goes.
- Do not give up if you haven’t found the right match.
Here is a list of questions that you can use when looking for a therapist:
- I am struggling with (ex.: anxiety, binge eating, grief etc..), do you have experience providing therapy for these challenges?
- How many of your clients have similar challenges?
- How long have you been a practicing therapist?
- What does a therapy session with you look like?
- What is your understanding of the client-therapist relationship?
- What tools do you use to teach about (ex.: depression, boundaries, trauma etc…)?
- What are your views on identity, power and privilege?
- Do you think racial trauma is a valid traumatic experience?
- Do you believe that issues like discrimination, oppression and anti-Black racism have an impact on mental health?
- How do you know when therapy is working for a client?
- Can you give me an example of how you give feedback?
- Can I contact you after hours in case of an emergency?
- Do you offer virtual or in-person sessions?
- How much is each session?
- Do you offer a sliding scale?
- How do I make a payment?
Therapy is a very powerful process once you find the right match. So go out there, find a therapist and start the process to your healing journey today. You are worth it!
This content is for informational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Always seek the advice of your mental health professional or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.