Westminster, CO—Therapy for the African American Community
Social stigmas, unfortunately, can make the decision to pursue mental health care difficult, and some people feel the weight of those stigmas more than others, African Americans in particular. A study conducted in 2010 found that White Americans reach out for mental health care at nearly double the pace of Black Americans. The reasons for the disparity are vast and varied, but they have taken their toll. A 2008 study asked African Americans, who were then going to therapy, about their experiences. One third said that their family members and friends would likely see their anxiety and depression as “crazy” and that they would feel uncomfortable speaking with their community about going to therapy. In light of past abuses, the health care system has not been as welcoming to African Americans as it should have been. Thus, many African Americans see going to therapy as airing their dirty laundry. However, more recent studies suggest that the trend may be shifting as Black Americans are going to therapy at increasing rates.
A Washington Post article chronicles the shift. A 2013 story entitled, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness,” tells Jinneh’s story. In high school, Jinneh lost her mother and sunk into a depression. When a therapist gave her a prescription for an antidepressant, her community convinced her not to take the medication. In college, four years later, Jinneh was still fighting depression when a friend encouraged her to try therapy again. This time, Jinneh took her medicine, and she recovered. Now, she is telling others about her experiences.
Jinneh is not alone. Her story illustrates a bigger trend that is occurring in African American communities: more and more people are going to therapy and receiving the mental health care they need. Dr. Jeffrey Gardere owns a private practice in New York City, and he observed, “I’ve seen 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.” His practice has seen an increase of 20-25 percent of African American clients.
Many factors are sustaining this trend toward a mindset that is more accepting of therapy. Increased awareness of and access to mental health care are certainly factors. Mental health care professionals are also growing in their awareness how to advocate for their African American clients. Therapists are increasingly sensitive and respectful to the African American community and its context. The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Westminster hope to contribute to this positive trend, and we offer therapy that is sensitive to African Americans.
Community, Family, Religion, and Counselors: A United Community
One deep and rich aspect of African American culture is its tight community, family, and religious relationships. The mental health community has, at times, positioned itself in opposition to these relationships, and many therapists and counselors are coming to understand the harm this opposition has caused. Instead, mental health professionals are learning to work together with their clients’ community relationships—not against them.
Family members, religious leaders, and community support systems can care for individuals in ways that mental health professionals cannot. At the same time, therapists and counselors can often help individuals in ways that their communities cannot. When these support systems work together, individuals often receive the care they need.
Establishing Trust in the Therapeutic Relationship
A cornerstone of effective therapy is trust. One of the many ways that Thriveworks Westminster strives to build trust is by giving each client individualized care. Each client brings their own hopes and capacities into the counseling room, and thus, each client often sets the goals and pace for therapy.
Mental health professionals are guides, not dictators. Our staff works hard to understand each individual, their wounds, challenges, hopes, fears, joys, and experiences. Our goal is to create a safe space for every person who walks through our doors—a place where they can share without fear and without judgment. We want our clients to be free to share about themselves and their experiences.
Feeling free to be oneself means accounting for each client’s culture and ethnicity. Some therapeutic models implement a colorblind approach that minimizes a client’s race and cultural experiences. Thriveworks Westminster, however, acknowledges that cultural context matters. We are committed to handling issues connected to ethnicity and race with empathy and respect.
As trust grows, many African American clients feel safer to share more of their experiences and work toward goals, such as…
- Career advancement
- Grief counseling
- Racial trauma
- Child therapy
- Sexual identity issues
- Substance use
- Anger management
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Eating disorders
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Job loss
- Psychiatric testing
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Executive coaching
- Couples and marriage counseling
Scheduling Therapy at Thriveworks Westminster
If you are considering scheduling an appointment with a mental health professional, Thriveworks Westminster wants you to know that appointments are available. We are ready to support you in whatever challenges or opportunities you may be facing.
If you call Thriveworks Westminster, a real person will answer your call and help you find an appointment. You may be meeting with your counselor the following day. Evening and weekend appointments are available, but we do not keep a waitlist. Our hope is that our clients receive the care they need when they need it. We also accept many forms of insurance.
Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Westminster today.