Therapy for African Americans in Grand Rapids, MI—Culturally Sensitive Counseling
Jinneh was just a teen when her mother passed away, and like many who lose a parent, depression overtook Jinneh’s mind and body. When her doctgor prescribed medication, her friends and family members were skeptical. Like many in the African-American community, it was hard to trust the medical and mental health profession. Jinneh did not take her medication, and years later, she still struggled with depression when her college roommate encouraged her to see a therapist. With treatment, Jinneh’s depression lifted, and now, she dedicates her time to educating others on the importance of mental health. Jinneh’s story is not unique. It is chronicled in the Washington Post article, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness.” Many other African Americans, like Jinneh, have gone without the mental health care they needed. Times are changing, however, and many other African Americans, like Jinneh, are now receiving the therapy they need and deserve.
The therapists at Thriveworks Grand Rapids understand how difficult it can be to start therapy and that African Americans feel that weight more acutely. Our goal is to be a part of the positive trend that is giving African Americans more access to mental health care that is sensitive to their particular needs.
Therapeutic Relationships and Trust
Caucasians go to therapy at twice the rate of African Americans according to a 2010 study, and there are many reasons for this disparity. One of which is that African Americans have not had adequate access to the care they need. Another reason is that American Americans have all too often experienced poor care from medical professionals. “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,” said Psychiatrist, Dr. William Lawson in a 2012 NPR interview.
It is understandable that many African Americans are skeptical of mental health care, and Thriveworks Grand Rapids hopes to offer care that meets these needs—care that is accessible and meets the needs of our African American clients. How can this happen? We believe in building trust into the therapeutic relationship. Here is what therapy at Thriveworks Grand Rapids involves.
Our therapists build trust through demonstrating understanding of and respect for our client’s social and ethnic context. We reject a “colorblind” approach that minimizes and denies a client’s unique challenges and experiences, and instead, we know that cultural context matters to who they are as an individual. Race, ethnicity, and culture all play a role in who people are. Our professionals work hard to make the therapeutic relationship a safe place where trust is the foundation. Our hope is that clients feel free to speak openly about their hopes and dreams, struggle and fears, challenges and opportunities without shame and without fear.
Building trust also means offering individualized care. Culture matters, and so does an individual’s unique experiences. Each client has their own perspective, their own goals for counseling, their own experiences. The therapists at Thriveworks Grand Rapids spend significant time getting to know each client and allowing each client to feel comfortable. As the therapeutic relationship progresses, clients often feel free to share more and go deeper. There is no limit to what clients can explore, but often, African Americans choose to work through many issues with their therapist, issues such as…
- Grief counseling
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Racial trauma
- Executive coaching
- Couples and marriage counseling
- Eating disorders
- Career advancement
- Child therapy
- Anger management
- Substance use
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Job loss
- Psychiatric testing
- Sexual identity issues
Psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere owns a counseling practice in New York City, and he has “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.” In the past few years, the African Americans who seek care at his practice has increased 20-25.
Scheduling a Counseling Appointment at Thriveworks Grand Rapids
Is it time for you to meet with a counselor? If so, know that a counselor at Thriveworks Grand Rapids is ready to meet with you. Some issues in life need the guidance and care from a mental health professional. You are not alone. Thriveworks Grand Rapids offers culturally sensitive care that is respectful of your individual needs and experiences. We know that life is hard. Scheduling an appointment for counseling should not be. We have done what we can to make that process as easy as possible. Here are some important things to know about our office:
- We have scheduling specialists who answer our phones. When you call, one will answer and help you schedule your appointment. You will not reach a voicemail or automated response.
- New clients frequently meet with their therapist the day following their first call. When you are ready to start your therapy, you should not have to wait.
- We know that people have busy lives, so we offer evening and weekend sessions.
- Many different insurance plans are accepted, and we work with many different insurance companies.
Call Thriveworks Grand Rapids today to meet with a therapist who offers culturally sensitive care.