We need help.
Today, I want to start a mental health series which will be intertwined the matters of race and inter-culture issues. Something that has been on my heart and that I’ve been developing convictions about is therapy. Naturally, as a Black Christian women, there is a reaction I get when I say I see a therapist, so I wanted to use the platform to speak out a bit on it. I will also include snippets of my therapy experience, to help anyone who may be thinking of therapy, but not sure what themselves are getting into.
So, out of all the races, the white community have mainly been the ones correctly utilising the resources for mental health, on the other hand, they are the group of people who have suffered least amount of psychological damage as a whole. Racism in scientific was prevalent from the 1800’s and even more so in the mid 1900’s, where it was used in justifying White European imperialism, so as a natural result, the black community refrains from the discussion for many reasons, be it for the belief that mental health treatment was designed by White people for White people, or that in a point in time, black people were deemed less than humans and incapable of receiving psychiatric help. The fact of the matter is that mental help resources resources haven’t always been privileged for black people, however although the world of therapy is becoming more versed in cultural and racial differences in the black people experience in world, many black people are uninformed about the potential help these services could have for them. Christianity, being the prominent faith in the black community, we are encourage to pray on our issues, believe in the power of healing, and confess to our brothers and sisters, although all have therapeutic benefits, I personally believe it is okay to make use of a tool that has been based upon the scientific study of your nature, to help your nature.
First therapy session
It was interesting, progressive, even in the first 30 minutes. She was patient, spoke with many gaps, I figured she was leaving room for ‘thinking silence’. She sat opposite me, leaving a metre in-between us, focusing on me, on my reactions, my facial expressions, speaking with the typical gentleness that seem to come with the title of ‘therapist’. It was a ‘Tell me why you’re here’ session, so I spoke and she asked, then I spoke some more. I told her about my past pains and not so past pains and my present. She made sure to acknowledge ‘positive traits’ that she noted, which in all honestly was encouraging. I told her that a lot of my thoughts and memories, those that I could remember. She asked questions that directed my thinking, left room for me to mention extra thoughts. Before we ended, she asked me what I really wanted to focus on and how we were going to go about it. I can honestly say that I left my first therapy session feeling hopeful, with a different perspective on a handful of my experiences that we spoke about. And only in the first session.
Therapy is a journey of discovering that you take, accompanied by your therapist – my therapist
Mbele, Z. (2010). Black Clinical Psychologists’ Experiences of Race In Psychodynamic Psychotherapy: A research report.
Hill, T. (2013). Why Black History Month Is Important To Psychotherapy. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 12, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2013/02/why-black-history-month-is-important-to-psychotherapy/
Tummala-Narra, P. (2007). Skin Color and the Therapeutic Relationship. Psychoanal. Psychol., 24:255-270
Donovan, L. (2016). Why the Black Community Has a Fraught Relationship With Therapy. Attn: Retrieved on July 12, 2016, from http://www.attn.com/stories/6814/why-black-community-has-fraught-relationship-with-therapy