For nearly two years, we’ve experienced collective trauma. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a flood of anxiety, stress, fear, loss, and instability across the world, creating a mental health crisis. Black people shot and killed by police, mass protests, the Capitol riot, and systemic racism have brought another level of pain.
Naturally, Black therapists have been in high demand, despite being underrepresented in their field. According to the American Psychological Association, in 2019 there were approximately 106,000 licensed psychologists in the U.S., yet only 3 percent are Black.
It’s difficult finding a therapist, not to mention finding a therapist that looks like you. This was important to me as a Black woman when I began my search years ago. Finding one who was a good fit and that I could establish trust with was worth the effort.
Within the Black community, there is a stigma towards seeking help for mental health. There is this notion that you don’t need to “tell all your business” to a complete stranger or that there is nothing that prayer and faith can’t fix. These things have done nothing but hold us back from true healing and breaking out of emotional bondage.
After a sexual assault while I was in college, the shame prevented me from seeking professional help. I left school and returned home. My mother took it upon herself to make an appointment for me with a therapist. She did this out of love and concern; however, I walked into that office reluctant and not knowing anything about the therapist other than her name. I was uncomfortable, and she made no effort to get to know me. She barely looked up, as she asked generic questions. I felt as if she were just going through the motions. Worse, I picked up on her language towards me. It lacked empathy and at times seemed as if she was trying to get a certain reaction. The hour passed slowly. I left and never went back.
Needless to say, it would take years before I would seek therapy again. What I knew for sure was that I desired a therapist that I could connect with — a Black woman. But I did some…