Why Black Therapists Matter | African American Therapy in Atlanta, Georgia

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Black Therapists Matter: What I learned about therapy from attending an HBCU

Growing up, therapy was not in the lineup of options when considering to seek emotional or mental support. Typically, there was the support from the church, possible community leader, or a trusted friend. However, the most frequently used strategy was keeping things “in house.” Since then, I’ve gained a better understanding and appreciation for the role of therapy. Largely, this was due to my experience attending a Historical Black University (HBCU).

HBCU Learnings

HBCUs were founded to educate students of African American decent to give Black people an equal opportunity to education. My appreciation for therapy began when I enrolled as a psychology major at the illustrious Clark Atlanta University, a prestigious HBCU.

On top of taking the fundamental psychology courses, I also took specialty classes addressing the inclusion of African Americans and psychology. The cherry on top was that my professors looked like me, and could relate to me on a deeper level. Like most people, I only knew therapy to be as it was depicted in movies. You know, the “shrink” sitting in a chair across the room from the client who’s laying on a couch while constantly being asked “how does that make you feel?” My education from an HBCU has taught me that therapy is much more diverse than that.

Therapy is Normal

My HBCU taught me that therapy is normal. Therapy is for any and every person in need and willing to work through their “stuff.” We all have our fair share of “stuff” that help mold us into who we are. But, therapy can help us make sense of thoughts, behaviors, and patterns that we may not understand. Therapy also provides tools to help us face the tough stuff that life throws at us. Of course, there are some misconceptions about therapy. One common misconceptions is that therapy is just someone telling you what to do with your life. I absolutely disagree (that would be bad therapy!) As a therapist, I may be biased, but I think that everyone could benefit from therapy at some point in their lives.

One thing to keep in mind is that therapy is not one-size-fits-all. There are so many different methods, theories, and ways to approach therapy. Additionally, every therapist has their own focus, style, personality, and background. So, finding a good fit is important. This fit fit between client and therapist is an important factor in good outcomes. My approach to therapy is simple: the client is in the driver seat. I am the navigator helping the client get where they want to go. I'm along for the ride on your journey. All in all, I truly believe that one of the most important parts of therapy is finding a therapist that is a good fit for you.

Black Therapists Matter

Overall, the greatest lesson that I learned about therapy from attending an HBCU is that there are therapists who look like me. I learned that there is a shortage of African American/Black therapists in the field. I'm here to help change that. Black therapists are important for multiple reasons.

Culture and ethnicity impact experiences of trauma and mental illness. They can also shape the way we interpret our experiences. Additionally, there is historically a stigma about mental health in the Black community. These are some of the reasons that Black or POC clients may feel more understood by a Black therapist. Having the representation of Black therapists helps normalize mental health care for Black people.

Keep in mind that none of this is to suggest that non-Black therapists can't help Black clients. However, it's important that therapists working with Black clients are culturally competent and specifically aware of their personal biases. It is important for the field of mental health to have clinicians from all cultures to allow clients the space to feel comfortable, and not feel limited in options when choosing a therapist.

I'm grateful that I had the experience of attending an HBCU. It has definitely shaped the way I understand and approach therapy. Without this experience, I don't think that I could have really understood how much Black therapists matter.

Do you feel like your therapist doesn't understand you?

You are not alone. Black therapists matter and we get it! We know what it’s like to be the only black person in a room, or to have a therapist who is uncomfortable with race-related issues. It can make therapy feel less effective and even unsafe at times. That’s why our mission is to connect clients with therapists that share their experiences and values so they can heal faster. Request an appointment to set up a free 15-minute phone consult with Daja Jones.



4411 Suwanee Dam Road, Suite 450
Suwanee, GA 30024

hello@empowercounseling.net
770-283-8386

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