Jinneh’s mother died when she was a teenager, and in her grief, Jinneh experienced a deep depression. Her therapist prescribed an antidepressant, but friends and family members, skeptical of the counselor, convinced Jinneh not to take the medication. Four years later, Jinneh was in college and still wrestling with depression. An unfortunate social stigma often overshadows people when they work with a mental health professional, and some communities experience a greater degree of that stigma than others. A Washington Post article entitled, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness,” outlines Jinneh’s story as part of a larger trend in the African American community. A 2010 study concluded that Caucasians receive mental health care at a rate that is double that of African Americans, but this trend may be changing for the better. Jinneh’s story also illustrates this shifting mindset. In college, Jinneh’s roommate encouraged her to return to therapy, and she received both the medication and the therapy she needed. Psychologist Jeffrey Gardere runs a mental health practice, 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.” Dr. Gardere’s practice has seen an increase of 20-25 percent in the African Americans clients who receive care.
The social stigma that many African Americans feel regarding mental health care has a variety of roots—not the least of which are the many abuses they have experienced throughout history within the health care system. Many African Americans feel that going to therapy is airing dirty laundry with outsiders, but as more and more people are going to therapy, attitudes are changing. A growing awareness of what mental health problems are and how they are treating is combating the social stigma. Another important factor is that many mental health professionals are growing in their own awareness of how to provide therapy in a culturally sensitive way. The staff at Thriveworks Newport News aims to be a part of this positive trend by offering therapy that is culturally sensitive to the needs of African Americans.
The social stigma that surrounds mental health care is often the manifestation of distrust. In many ways, the African American community has reason to be skeptical of a health care system that has not always looked out for its best interests. Another factor is that people are not always aware of the benefits mental health care can offer. Uncertainty can breed distrust. As mental health professionals work to provide mental health care based upon transparency and trust, this stigma often fades. Here is what the staff at Thriveworks Newport News is doing to establish trust in the therapeutic relationship.
The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Newport News offer personalized care to each client. In many ways, the client controls the pace and the goals for counseling. As the therapeutic relationship is established, the professionals at Thriveworks take time to get to know each of their clients and allow their clients to get to know them. Safety is the foundation of good mental health care, and our staff works hard to make the therapeutic relationship safe so that each client can share their dreams and hopes, challenges and struggles without fear and without shape.
A big part of earning trust is demonstrating respect and cultural intelligence regarding a client’s social, ethnic, and economic context. Some mental health professionals aim to be “colorblind,” and they do not account for their clients’ unique experiences and challenges. The therapists and counselors at Thriveworks Newport News instead know that each person’s cultural context matters to who they are as an individual. It plays a role in how and why people make the choices they do for their lives. Further, our mental health professionals understand that their own ethnicity and culture will affect the care they can offer. Our staff is committed to building trust through empathy and respect instead of a minimization of cultural issues.
When trust goes deep, so can the therapeutic relationship. When clients feel comfortable, they often work through more and more issues in their lives that are important to their mental health. In a session, African American clients often work with their therapists to address issues like…
- Grief counseling
- Racial trauma
- Career advancement
- Child therapy
- Anger management
- Executive coaching
- Substance use
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Job loss
- Couples and marriage counseling
- Psychiatric testing
- Sexual identity issues
Setting Up Counseling at Thriveworks Newport News
Are you ready to work with a mental health professional? If so, you are not alone. The professionals at Thriveworks Newport News are ready to offer respectful and culturally sensitive care. We know that whatever you are facing in life right now is hard, and we have done what we can to make scheduling therapy as easy as possible. Here are a few things to know when you call our office:
- A scheduling specialist will answer your call and help you make an appointment. We do not have voicemail or an automated response system.
- New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours. If you are ready to get started, why wait?
- Weekend and evening appointments are offered—because we know you have a busy schedule.
- We accept a variety of health insurance plans and work with many insurance companies.
Call Thriveworks Newport News today to make an appointment.