When she was in high school, Jinneh’s mother died, and she developed a deep depression. Jinneh went to counseling, but when her therapist prescribed an antidepressant, she never filled it. Jinneh’s friends and family members were not sure the therapist had Jinneh’s best interest in mind, and they convinced her to stop treatment. Several years later, she was still depressed when her college roommate convinced her to start treatment again. This time, Jinneh filled her prescription, continued with her treatment, and recovered from the depression. She now dedicates her life to educating others about mental health issues. Jinneh is not alone. Distrust, inadequate care, and inaccessible treatment has kept many African Americans from receiving the mental health care they needed, but times are changing according to The Washington Post story, “Therapists say African Americans are increasingly seeking help for mental illness.” Many African Americans are going to therapy and finding the treatment they deserve.
Thriveworks Richmond understands that many roadblocks hold people back from getting therapy and that African Americans often experience more of those roadblocks than others. Our office hopes to remove as many barriers as possible, and we offer therapy that is culturally sensitive to the needs of our African American clients.
Therapy and Trust
Even though they experience the same rates of mental illness, African Americans receive therapy at half the rate as Caucasian Americans do, according a study conducted in 2010. Many reasons account for this inequality, but two big factors are inadequate and inaccessible care. In a 2012 NPR interview, Psychiatrist, Dr. William Lawson, explained, “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.” The distrust that many African Americans feel is certainly grounded and understandable, and yet, many within the African American community and many within the mental health community are working hard to rebuild trust.
What does it look like for a therapist to build trust with an African American client? At Thriveworks Richmond we work hard to offer individualized care that also accounts for a client’s cultural context.
Some therapists talk about a “colorblind” approach to therapy, but Thriveworks Richmond believes ignoring or downplaying race is not the best way to build trust. Instead, our therapists believe that a client’s context is important. Their race and ethnicity contribute to their identity. Instead of trying to be colorblind, we aim to be understanding and empathic. We want our clients to speak openly about anything and everything—including how race has shaped their experiences and their mental health. Our therapists work hard to understand a client’s perspective.
As trust is built and as clients feel free to share more about their lives, our therapists offer individualized care. Everyone needs a safe place where they can openly speak about their fears and struggles, traumas and triumphs, dreams and hopes, opportunities and challenges. Our therapists work hard to make counseling that safe space where clients can open up without fear or shame. Clients often set the pace for therapy and delve into issues as they are ready. No list could ever contain all the topics a client might address in therapy, but examples of issues that African American clients often raise include…
- Grief counseling
- Obsessive-compulsive tendencies
- Executive coaching
- Racial trauma
- Couples and marriage counseling
- Sexual identity issues
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Eating disorders
- Child therapy
- Career advancement
- Anger management
- Substance use
- Suspected abuse of a child
- Job loss
- Psychiatric testing
Dr. Jeffrey Gardere is a psychologist who runs a practice in New York City. He has observed trust being built between African Americans and therapists. He explained how 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.” Dr. Gardere’s practice has seen 20-25 percent more African American clients in the past few years.
Scheduling a Therapy Appointment at Thriveworks Richmond
Have you considered therapy, but something is holding you back? We understand that there are many roadblocks to seeking out mental health care, but we want to remove as many as those barriers as possible. If you think that therapy is the right next step for you, know that Thriveworks Richmond is ready to help. We have appointments available.
When you contact our office to schedule a therapy appointment, here are a few things we have done to make that process as easy as we could…
- A real person answers our phones and helps our clients schedule their appointments.
- We do not have a voicemail or an automated response system.
- New clients often meet with their counselor within 24 hours of their call to make an appointment.
- Weekend and evening sessions are offered.
- We do not keep a wait list so you will never be put on one.
- Our office works with many different insurance companies, and many different insurance plans are accepted.
If you are ready to meet with a therapist, the professionals at Thriveworks Richmond are ready to meet with you. We offer culturally sensitive therapy, and we have appointments available. Call today.