When people consider whether they should go to therapy, they may have to deal with stigmas that can discourage them from receiving the care they need. Not everyone feels the stigma, but some feel it more acutely than others. A 2010 study showed that African Americans receive mental health care at half the rate as Caucasians do, even though both struggled with mental illness at the same rate. A number of barriers are keeping many African Americans from receiving the therapy they need. Just two of those barriers are inaccessible and inadequate care. Mental health care has not always been available to African Americans, and when it has, the quality of care has not always been adequate. Many are working to change this dynamic, and more and more, African Americans are receiving the mental health care they need.
The Washington Post documented the shift in its article, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness.” Jinneh’s story exemplifies the change that is happening. When Jinneh was in high school, she became depressed after her mother died. A therapist prescribed Jinneh an antidepressant, but her family members and friends did not trust the therapist. They were unsure the therapist had Jinneh’s best interest at heart, and they convinced her not to fulfill the prescription. It was not until years later until Jinneh’s college roommate suggested she go back to therapy that Jinneh got the help she needed. Now, Jinneh educates others about mental health care.
Many others are like Jinneh was—in need of mental health care but reasonably skeptical. Many are also benefitting from the work Jinneh is currently doing—being empowered to receive the mental health care they need. That is why Thriveworks Lynchburg offers therapy. Our counselors are aware of the particular needs African Americans clients may have and how to meet those needs.
Therapy, Community, Family, and Religion: Mental Health and Community Support
Many African American communities are built upon rich and deep connections. Family, faith, and friendships define many communities and give their members invaluable support for their lives. Mental health professionals have not always worked well with an African American client’s community network. At times, therapists have been antagonistic or working against a community. This posture is rightly changing, and more and more, mental health professionals are working with a client’s community support instead of against it.
Each piece is important in a puzzle and each piece of an individual’s support network is important to their mental health. Religious leaders play a role that family cannot. Family plays a role that friends cannot. Therapists play a role that religious leaders cannot. When each plays their role, individuals benefit from a holistic approach to support.
Trust within the Therapeutic Relationship
Dr. Jeffrey Gardere is a psychiatrist who runs a practice in New York. Over the past few years, 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.” Trust is growing between the mental health community and African Americans. That trust is vital, both as African Americans make the decision to pursue therapy and as they progress in a therapeutic relationship.
One of the ways that Thriveworks Lynchburg builds trust is through transparency. We want our clients to know what they can expect from therapy and from the professionals at Thriveworks Lynchburg. Here is a picture of what we value and emphasize in therapy.
Our clients are given personalized and holistic care. Counseling is tailored to an individual’s needs. Therapists are not dictators, but they are guides on a healing journey. As trust is built, clients often feel more comfortable going deeper into the therapeutic experience, but clients set that pace. As they feel safe, clients can explore their challenges, opportunities, experiences, wounds, strengths, and weaknesses.
Another important part of building trust is through honoring a client’s context, including their culture, race, and ethnicity. People’s whole lives matter. Some in the mental health community advocate for being “colorblind” to a client’s race, but at Thriveworks Lynchburg, we feel as if that approach minimizes important aspects of clients’ identities and experiences. Instead, we advocate for understanding and empathy. Our professionals seek to cultivate awareness of their own culture and their own bias so that they can show respect for what their client is experiencing. There is no formula for the topics addressed in therapy, but when clients and therapists trust one another, then many African Americans use therapy as a place where they can address topics in their lives such as…
- Racial trauma
- Career advancement
- Grief counseling
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Substance use
- Sexual identity issues
- Child therapy
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Anger management
- Eating disorders
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Psychiatric testing
- Job loss
- Couples and marriage counseling
Setting Up Therapy at Thriveworks Lynchburg
You may have recognized something on this list. If so, know that help is available. You may not have recognized something on this list. If not, know that help is available. No list could contain every reason people seek out therapy. If you are considering going to therapy, consider Thriveworks Lynchburg. When you call our office, a scheduling specialist will answer and help you make an appointment. Weekend and evening sessions are available, and we accept many forms of insurance. Let’s work together. Call Thriveworks Lynchburg today.