are many different ideas about why African
Americans don't seek therapy. Here are
some of the more prevalent ones.
I'm not crazy"
it's true that some people with mental
health issues seek therapy, it's really
a service for anyone. Therapy is
a paid service that connects you with
a trained professional who provides you
with the support you need to live a healthier
and happier life.
I first met "Andre" he was apprehensive
about seeking therapy. Overall, he felt
that his life was manageable and that
he did not have enough
problems to go to therapy. He certainly
was not "crazy". After several discussions about
the purpose of therapy and its benefits
to him as a rational person, Andre was
able to accept his desire for therapy.
fact, in a recent session Andre said that
the healthiest people he knows are all
in therapy. But the people he knows
who have the most problems aren't
that your life is not how you want it
to be or that you need additional support
is exactly when therapy can be helpful.
can talk to my friends and family"
we talk with our family or friends, sometimes
we don't tell them everything that's going
on in our head or in our lives. This isn't to be deceptive, but it is
because we care about our friends and
family. And we care what they think about
came to see me because she was thinking
about leaving her husband. She
recently found out that he had an affair.
But her family adored her him and
she was afraid of what they would say.
She hadn't made up her mind about
leaving, but she needed someone to talk
you're concerned with what others are
thinking and feeling, you cannot focus
on yourself and your own needs.
That's the benefit of therapy.
You can share all of your thoughts and
feelings without worrying about the therapist.
As backwards as it may sound, it
can be easier to talk to a stranger.
was relieved to talk about her marriage
with someone who was not judging her or
telling her what to do. This freedom
allowed her to be honest with herself
and decide what is best for her. Ultimately, she decided to stay and work
on her marriage.
this mean that your family and friends
aren't helpful to you? Absolutely
not. It means that therapy can
add to the support that they provide,
helping you in a very different way.
another racist system"
African-Americans, we know the persistent
racism in our country. It exists
on a large scale and in our daily interactions.
We have many reasons to be suspicious
of outsiders, to be distrustful of their
motivations and actions. The Tuskegee
Syphilis Experiment is a perfect example
of why we are wary of outsiders. Going to therapy poses another opportunity
to encounter racism and discrimination
if you're met with an insensitive or ignorant
I worked in an agency, I often saw African-American
clients who immediately said, "I'm so
relieved that you're Black." Some
felt more comfortable with me because
they felt that they did not have to "teach"
me about our culture. Others had
encountered racist beliefs with White
an African-American woman in her 30's
with two children, previously met with
a White therapist before coming to see
me. The therapist was surprised
to learn that Ayanna attended and graduated
from college. When the therapist
asked about Ayanna's children and family,
she asked if the children had the same
father. At this point, Ayanna knew
that she wouldn't be comfortable with
a therapist who assumed that she was uneducated
had children with different men simply
because she was African-American. continued on page 2
can benefit from therapy