Alexandria, VA— Mental Health Care for African Americans
Jinneh felt into a deep depression after her mom passed away. She was just a teen and grieving. Jinneh started counseling, but when the therapist wrote a prescription for the depression, Jinneh’s friends and family were not sure. They did not think that the therapist had Jinneh’s best interest in mind, and they were not included in the decision. With her community and her therapist at odds, Jinneh did not fill the prescription and stopped going to counseling. A few years later, she was in college and still depressed. Her roommate suggested trying therapy again. This time was different. Jinneh chose a therapist she trusted, and together, they formulated a treatment plan. Jinneh’s depression lifted. Jinneh’s story is not unique, as The Washington Post documents in their article, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness.” Jinneh is now one among many who are advocating for better and more accessible mental health care for African Americans.
Thriveworks Alexandria is joining the fight to remove as many roadblocks as possible for African Americans as they seek out mental health care. We offer therapy that builds trust with our African Americans clients and seeks to work with, not against, their community.
Establishing Trust at Therapy
According to a 2010 study, Caucasians and African Americans face the same rates of mental health disorders, but they receive care at vastly disproportionate rates. African Americans goes to therapy at half the rates as Caucasians do. Why the disparity? Dr. William Lawson addressed it in a 2012 NPR interview, citing inaccessible and inadequate mental health care. He explained, “Dr. Satcher in his surgeon general’s report noted that there was less accessibility of mental health services for people of color for a variety of reasons. Part of it is that many of the systems simply aren’t located proximity to where people of color are. Part of it is that many professionals simply don’t know how to diagnose properly African-Americans.” Dr. Lawson, a psychiatrist, went on to tell about how in medical school, he was explicitly taught that African Americans do not become depressed. This teaching is a gross falsehood that has surely led to negligent care. The distrust that many African Americans hold toward mental health care is understandable and needs to be acknowledged. It also needs to be acknowledged that many people, like Dr. Lawson and Jinneh, are working hard to build trust between the mental health care community and the African American community.
Trust is an important element of therapy—trust between communities but also trust between an individual therapist and an individual client. The therapists at Thriveworks Alexandria work hard to establish trust with their clients. When clients feel safe and share about what is really happening in their lives, therapists can often offer individualized and holistic care.
Everyone needs a safe place where they can share. Everyone needs to speak openly and honestly about their struggles and success, dreams and disappointments, opportunities and obstacles. Trust is the foundation of such an environment. Clients need to know that whatever they say and whatever they share will be received and that their therapist will not judge or shame them. As clients trust their therapists, they can share more and more. Often, this leads to more and more healing.
Because people are whole beings, their entire life matters for their mental health. Therefore, many clients choose to share about matters relating to their race, ethnicity, and culture. When clients open up about their experiences, the therapists at Thriveworks Alexandria seeks to build understanding, respect, and empathy. Race shapes people’s experiences—for good and bad. There is no formula for topics to explore in therapy, but when clients feel safe, they delve into topics like…
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Grief counseling
- Executive coaching
- Racial trauma
- Couples and marriage counseling
- Sexual identity issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Child therapy
- Eating disorders
- Career advancement
- Anger management
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Substance use
- Job loss
- Psychiatric testing
A psychologist with a thriving practice in New York, Dr. Jeffrey Gardere has seen firsthand the benefits that building trust can bring. He has observed, “an increasing number of African Americans who feel increasingly less stigmatized about coming in and seeking therapy and who also recognize the healing power of therapy.” Over the past few years, he said his practice has seen an increase of 20-25 percent of African American clients.
Scheduling an Appointment at Thriveworks Alexandria
If mental health care is the right next step for you, you are not alone. We know that roadblocks can keep people from receiving the care they need, but we also are committed to removing as many of those roadblocks as possible. When you contact our office, we want scheduling therapy to be as easy as possible. Here is what you can expect when you call Thriveworks Alexandria…
- You will not reach a voicemail, but our scheduling specialists answer our phones and help our clients make their appointments.
- You may be meeting with your therapist the following day. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call.
- We offer evening and weekend sessions.
- You will not be put on a waitlist because we do not keep one.
- We accept a variety of insurance plans and work with a number of insurance companies.
Let’s work together. Call today!