Therapy seems like such a buzzword doesn’t it? Everyone seems to be talking about it, including me. Therapy is an important component to growth. I have tried different therapists in the past with little success. As I’ve gotten older, I have put more thought into why therapy hasn’t stuck, and what I’m looking for now. This week I’m going to offer some insights on the whys and how of starting a therapy journey.
Life is full of stressors. Work, family, financial responsibilities, and various relationships can affect how a person feels and behaves. During the day any of these stressors can negatively impact you. While the occasional vent to friends and family for minor annoyances is helpful, there are some things the average person cannot walk you through. For black women and other women of color, society has a unique set of stressors that complicate our lives further. The brain is a complex organ just like any other in your body. It needs the care of a professional trained to spot the issues and offer solutions. You wouldn’t go to your cousin if you broke your arm, would you? Same thing for mental health.
You should find a therapist because you can’t get rid of trauma on your own. Often times, you are unaware of some of it. You may go into therapy believing you are depressed but discover it’s something else entirely. Therapy helps you communicate better, creating stronger relationships. Since a therapist is impartial, you can share issues that discussing with loved ones may create tension. You grow, unhindered by others’ expectations of you.
I was diagnosed as clinically depressed when I was in high school. I don’t remember how that came about. The diagnosis was reiterated when I was a freshman in college. Both times I did very little about it. The first major hindrance to consistent therapy has always been money. I couldn’t afford therapy in college, and I didn’t know if we could in high school. Money is still a major deterrent for me today, but I know I can find resources to make therapy happen.
- Start with your insurance – Use the provider search available from your insurance company. You can compile a list of therapists to start with that you know take your insurance. If you don’t have insurance, I’ve used Psychology Today and Therapy for Black Girls online provider searches. Many therapists have sliding scale fees and can work with you.
- Make your search personal – The few previous therapists I had didn’t look like me. I couldn’t get comfortable sharing beyond the surface because I didn’t feel they could relate to my struggles as a black woman. Were they good therapists? Yes. They simply were not the right fit. In your search, identify what you feel you will need to get the most out of treatment. I want a therapist that looks like me because race is a factor in my life. I want a woman because my gender is another factor. You don’t want to be so specific you don’t have options, but don’t be so general you have too many.
- Shop around – I don’t mean to make it sound like you’re shopping for a car, but finding the right therapist requires some comparison. Many therapists offer an initial phone consultation to see if you may be a good fit. Take advantage of these calls to ask questions and get familiar before booking an appointment. Session didn’t feel like a fit? Try again with another. Therapy works when you do the work but having the right person to work with is crucial.
I hope you start your own therapy journey. Seeking help doesn’t make you weak or crazy. You recognize that there is a problem and are taking steps to resolve it. Whether you share you’re in therapy or not is up to you, but don’t let others dictate what is best for you. You’re a rock star for taking care of all of you.
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