According to a 2010 study, African Americans receive the mental health care they need at half the rate that Caucasians do. A number of factors contribute to the unacceptable disparity. Psychiatrist, Dr. William Lawson, in a 2012 NPR interview 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 goes on to tell about his experience in medical school when he was taught that African Americans do not become depressed. Mental health care professionals have significant work to do. To reach African Americans who need mental health care, they must provide quality, accessible care.
Understandably, many African Americans are skeptical of going to see a therapist or meeting with a counselor. At Thriveworks Chesterfield, our goal is to build a foundation of trust for the therapy we provide. We understand that choosing to start therapy is a difficult decision, but African Americans often feel that burden more intensely. We hope to ease that burden with accessible and quality mental health care.
Trust and a Therapeutic Relationship
When she was in high school, Jinneh sunk into a deep depression. Her mother had died, and Jinneh was seeing a therapist. When her counselor prescribed an antidepressant, Jinneh’s family and friends were skeptical. They did not trust that the medicine was in Jinneh’s best interest so they convinced her not to fill the medication. Several years later, Jinneh was in college and still fighting depression. This time, her roommate encouraged her to try therapy and medication again. Jinneh recovered and now works full-time in mental health care. She does not want other African Americans to suffer from inadequate care like she did. Jinneh is building trust between African Americans and mental health professionals. Her story is not the only one. A Washington Post Article, entitled, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness” details how the mental health care scene is changing for African Americans. They have more access to adequate care, and they are seeing therapists at record rates. Many African Americans are receiving the mental health care they deserve. Many mental health professionals are doing the hard work of building trust.
Trust is the foundation of mental health care, and it is absolutely necessary that counselors and therapists prove themselves as trustworthy. One of the many ways the therapists at Thriveworks Chesterfield build trust is by rejecting “colorblind” techniques that minimize a client’s cultural and ethnic context. Instead, we acknowledge that our own culture, ethnicity, and race play a part in the therapy we give. We also acknowledge that our clients’ culture, ethnicity, and race play a part in their identity and their experiences. The professionals at Thriveworks Chesterfield work to make the therapy room a safe space where clients can speak freely of their experiences.
Offering individualized care is also essential to building trust. When clients are free to speak openly, they often experience deeper healing in therapy. Everyone needs a place where they can talk about their fears and struggles, dreams and hopes, opportunities and challenges. Everyone needs a place where they can think and feel and process without fear and without shame. The professionals at Thriveworks Chesterfield spend time getting to know individual clients. In many ways, the client sets the goal and pace for the therapy. The more trust they have for their therapists, the more topics they will bring up. African American clients often use therapy to tackle issues like…
- Grief counseling
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Executive coaching
- Racial trauma
- Couples and marriage counseling
- Career advancement
- Eating disorders
- Child therapy
- Substance use
- Anger management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Job loss
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Psychiatric testing
- Sexual identity issues
In the past few years, Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere has seen 20-25 percent more African American clients at his counseling practice in New York City, and he observed how there is 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.”
Setting Up as Appointment at Thriveworks Chesterfield
Thriveworks Chesterfield offers accessible and quality mental health care that respects our clients’ cultural experiences. Life is challenging. Setting up an appointment for therapy should not be. Here is what our office has done to help our clients make an appointment.
- Scheduling specialists answer our calls. We do not have a voicemail, but real people help our clients make their appointments.
- New clients often are able to meet with their counselor within 24 hours of their first call to set up an appointment. You should not have to wait weeks to meet with a therapist once you are ready to get started.
- We do not keep a waitlist.
- We offer evening and weekend appointments because our clients lead busy lives.
- Our therapists and counselors are credentialed with many different insurance panels so that we can accept a variety of insurance plans.
Let’s work together. Contact Thriveworks Chesterfield to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional who provides culturally informed care.