Counseling for the African American Community—Therapists in Knoxville, TN
Making the decision to meet with a mental health professional may be the right decision, but it is rarely one that is made easily or lightly. A social stigma can often hold people back from seeking the care they need, and certain people may feel that stigma more heavily than others. In 2010, a study was conducted that revealed African Americans receive the mental health care they need at half the rate as Caucasian Americans do. A number of reasons account for the inequality. One is that African Americans do not have adequate physical and economic access to therapists. Another reason for the disparity is that mental health professionals have not offered quality care to African Americans. In a 2012 interview, Dr. William Lawson reflected upon an experience as he was training to be a psychologist. In medical school, he was told that African Americans do not become depressed—an inexcusable falsehood. What is the result of this inadequate care? “Part of it is that many professionals simply don’t know how to diagnose properly African-Americans,” Dr. Lawson reflected. A shift, however, is occurring. Therapists are closing the gap of access and quality. African Americans are more and more receiving the mental health care they deserve.
An article in The Washington Post entitled, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness,” documents the shift. It tells Jinneh’s story. When she was in high school, Jinneh’s mom passed, and she struggled with depression. Her therapist prescribed an antidepressant, but Jinneh never filled it. Her friends and family members were not sure the therapist had Jinneh’s best interest in mind. A few years later, Jinneh’s roommate encouraged her to go see a therapist again because she was still fighting depression. This time, Jinneh received the treatment she needed. Now, she works in the mental health care profession.
Jinneh’s story is not unique. Many within the African American community are now seeking mental health care. Many health care professionals are offering quality therapy that accounts for their needs. Thriveworks Knoxville is working to provide accessible, quality mental health care to our African American clients.
A Unified, Supportive Community
Family. Friendship. Faith. These are the cornerstones of many African-American communities. Mental health professionals have not always acknowledged the worth of these rich and deep relationships. Therapists have all too often set themselves against community support that friends, parents, brothers, sisters, and pastors can give. An important principle of culturally sensitive mental health care is that therapists work with a client’s community as an ally instead of working against it. Clients should feel a unified, supportive community in many forms.
Such a community looks like family members offering care that mental health professionals cannot. It looks like religious leaders offering care that friends cannot. Each has a role to play. Mental health professionals play an important role that coordinates with the role that others play. Everyone is focused upon an individual receive the mental health care and healing they deserve. Everyone is pulling toward the same target.
Mental Health Care and Establishing Trust
Trust that is established between a therapist and a client is of utmost importance to the quality of mental health care that is offered. When clients trust their therapists and when they feel safe during sessions, together they can often delve deeply into psychological wounds and find deep healing as well. What does it look like for a therapist to establish trust with a client? Two ways that the professionals at Thriveworks Knoxville is by offering individualized care and by accounting for each’s clients cultural and ethnic context.
Each person has unique hopes and dreams, traumas and hardships, challenges and opportunities. Each person’s therapy will be unique as well. For example, clients often set the pace for therapy. Some are ready to move quickly. Others take their time. There is no right or wrong way to heal. Therapists are not dictators; they are guides. The therapist’s goal is to create a safe space where their clients are free to speak openly without fear of judgment or shame—including any cultural or racial issues they may be facing.
The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Knoxville reject a “colorblind” approach that downplays the importance of a person’s race. People are whole beings, and their race and cultural context are important parts of their identity. Race and cultural context are also important parts of a therapist’s identity that can affect a client’s experience. The therapists at Thriveworks Knoxville work hard to cultivate their own self-awareness and interact with their clients in a way that promotes understanding, respect, empathy, and honesty. When such trust is established, African American clients often feel free to address topics such as…
- Racial trauma
- Grief counseling
- Career advancement
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Sexual identity issues
- Child therapy
- Substance use
- Executive coaching
- Anger management
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Eating disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Job loss
- Psychiatric testing
- Couples and marriage counseling
Scheduling Therapy at Thriveworks Knoxville
Are you ready to meet with a therapist? The professionals at Thriveworks Knoxville are ready to meet with you, and we have appointments available. When you call our office, a scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. Weekend and evening sessions are available. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. We also accept many insurance plans. Call today.