Mental Health Care for the African American Community in Reston, VA
Stigmas all too often keep people from seeking the mental health care they need and deserve, but even worse, some people feel those stigmas more strongly than others. African Americans receive mental health care at half the rate that Caucasians do, according to a 2010 study, even though both experience the same rates of mental illness. Many African Americans are skeptical of mental health professionals, and their skepticism is understandable. Therapy has not always been accessible to African American communities, nor has it always offered quality care. Even more, mental health care professionals at times have set themselves against community support networks that many African American clients rely upon. A difficult history cannot be denied, but the future looks different. More recent studies show that African Americans are seeking out and receiving the therapy they deserve. Mental health care is becoming more accessible, and therapists are offering quality mental health care.
Jinneh told her story as an example of how positive changes are taking place. After her mother passed, Jinneh struggled with depression according to The Washington Post’s article, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness.” She was just a high school kid, and her counselor prescribed medication for the depression. Unsure about whether the counselor at Jinneh’s best interests at heart, Jinneh’s friends and family told her not to fill the prescription. A few years later, Jinneh was in college and still depressed when her roommate encouraged her to try again. This time, Jinneh received the help she needed, and now she works professional in the mental health care industry.
Jinneh’s mission is to ensure that African Americans receive the quality mental health care they deserve, and Thriveworks Reston is also a part of that mission. Our goal is to offer accessible therapy that meets the needs of our African American clients.
Community, Therapy, Religion, and Family: Community Support and Mental Health
Deep and rich support systems undergird many African American communities. Religious leaders, family members, and deep friendships offer valuable support to individuals, but mental health professionals have not always worked as closely with their clients’ social networks. In fact, all too often, therapists have set themselves against a client’s community support. This mindset is changing, however. Mental health professionals are learning more and more to work with pastors, families, and friends. The mental health professionals at Thriveworks Reston understand that they play an important role in a client’s mental health care, but a client’s social network plays an important part as well.
A client’s family, therapist, and religious community are all on the same team. They are all working toward the same goal: an individual’s well-being. Pastors and other religious leaders can play a role therapists cannot. Counselors play a role that family members cannot. Friends offer support in a way religious communities cannot. When each support network within an individual’s life is aligned toward their well-being, they often receive the holistic care they deserve.
In his New York practice, Psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Gardere 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.” One contributing factor toward this positive development is a growing trust between African American clients and their therapists. Trust is the foundation for any therapeutic relationship.
Thriveworks Reston believes that transparency is one way that trust can be built between mental health professionals and African American clients. It is important to disclose what therapy is and what clients can expect. Here is a picture of what Thriveworks Reston offers.
Each client receives holistic and personalized care. Therapists are guides, not dictators. Clients set the therapeutic pace. As trust grows between a client and a counselor, clients often feel more and more comfortable to delve deeper and deeper. As clients feel safe, they often share about their experiences, joys, challenges, wounds, strengths, and weaknesses on their own timeline.
The therapists at Thriveworks Reston also build trust through respecting their client’s context. People are whole beings. Their race and culture matter. Some mental health professionals still advocate for a “colorblind” approach that downplays the importance of ethnicity. In contrast, the therapists at Thriveworks Reston advocate for respect, understanding, and empathy. The therapist’s cultural context matters as does the client’s. Our therapists work hard to understand and overcome their cultural bias so that they can build trust. As clients trust their therapists, many African Americans can delve into topics such as…
- Grief counseling
- Racial trauma
- Career advancement
- Child therapy
- Substance use
- Sexual identity issues
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Anger management
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Psychiatric testing
- Job loss
- Couples and marriage counseling
Scheduling Counseling at Thriveworks Reston
Something on this list may have resonated with your experience. You may not have recognized anything on the list. No list could contain every potential mental health struggle. If you are thinking about starting therapy, know that Thriveworks Reston is ready for you. When you contact our office, a real person will answer you call. We do not have an automated response system. We do not have voicemail. New clients often have their first appointment within 24 hours of their first call. We offer evening and weekend appointments, and we accept many different forms of insurance. Let’s work together. Call today.