If you grew up in a family anything like mine then you were unfamiliar or unaware of the importance of taking care of your mental health. There were no daily, weekly, or monthly check-ins for feelings and it was completely abnormal for a man to be “weak” or show emotions. Women were always reminded to be strong and uphold the high expectation of strength. Weakness in most African American and multicultural families are frowned upon and even today, in the 21st century, the advocacy for mental health within these communities remains scarce. With that said, it is extremely normal to question if therapy is really for you and be reluctant to schedule your first session with a mental health therapist.
Before we continue to answer if therapy is for you, let’s address some of the myths that are associated with meeting with a counselor.
Myth: If I see a therapist, something must be “wrong” with me.
Truth: No! When you see your PCP regularly does that mean something is wrong? No, it simply means you are aware of the importance of tuning up and checking in on your physical health. Same with therapy, you can be checking in with your mental health, creating support during daily life stressors, therefore there is absolutely nothing wrong with you.
Myth: Therapists are mind readers and plays with your head.
Truth: If this isn’t hilarious, I don’t know what is. We care about you and definitely aren’t mind readers. We are skilled to help you recognize and become aware of what you are thinking, feeling, and experiencing but we certainly are not mind readers.
Myth: My therapist will judge me if I tell them something vulnerable.
Truth: Absolutely not! If your therapist is judging you or making you feel bad, get rid of them ASAP! A genuine therapist will challenge you, expect you to put in the work to grow, but never should they judge you!
Myth: My therapist knows everything.
Truth: Heck no! You are the expert on your life! We are simply here to walk alongside this journey of healing with you by offering interventions, skills, and tools that you choose to use.
Myth: Therapy is too expensive. I will never be able to afford talking to someone.
Truth: Honestly like many things, therapy does cost but the price doesn’t have to break the bank. Most therapists will work with you by providing a sliding scale if absolutely needed and insurance companies have the ability to reimburse the cost you have put out. Like many healthy alternatives in life, therapy can be an investment to your healing so it’s often going to be worth the price.
Myth: I can’t talk to Jesus, God, AND a therapist.
Truth: YOU CAN DO IT ALL! There is nothing wrong with being connected to God as well as taking care of your mental health by seeing a counselor. I’m sure if you are a member of these populations, this is a myth you hear that one a lot.
Now that we’ve addressed some of the common myths, I hope you are beginning to recognize that therapy is a brave and safe space for you. Growing up in an environment where you may have become subjected to severe trauma can leave you scarred not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. You may have found yourself in relationships that look similar to the abusive patterns you have witnessed over time. Or maybe the way you communicate is by yelling and hurting others with your words. Throughout your life it may have been be easy to deem that as normal—which is completely understandable because that is what our environment wants us to believe. As you begin to explore if counseling is for you, you will quickly learn how abnormal, dysfunctional, and unhealthy our upbringings can be.
The most difficult part about deciding if therapy is really for you is making the first step admitting your support may need to come from a professional. Like I mentioned before, it does not mean something is wrong but it can become challenging when you believe you need to look for other sources to sort hurt, pain, confusion, sadness, anger, and many other feelings out in life. Once you have decided for yourself that what you grew up around no longer serves you purpose you are making the choice towards your healing journey.
Healing is no one size fits all. Someone else’s process will look a lot different than yours and that is simply okay. You get to be the author of your new narrative of life. You get to choose how long you hurt or how long you spend during the healing process. Therapy is about choices. If you have been contemplating about making the step to positive mental health then I hope this blog can offer you an extra push to take control of your life today. Therapy can be worthwhile as it assists you in growth, healing, and progress. Therapy can also offer a challenge to help you take back the power in your life.
As difficult as it may seem, try your best to remember although you were born into, accustom to, and force into the environmental and cultural norms around you, if it is causing your mental health to decline it may not be as healthy and normal as you have been reframed to believe. If you want to get a jump start on your therapeutic journey, I have listed some resources below to help you begin the search for a therapist that may fit your needs as well as books that may speak to the BIPOC communities. Take a chance and honor that therapy is most certainly for you!
Therapy Resources for African American and Multicultural Communities
- The Unapologetic Guide to Black Mental Health: Navigate an Unequal System, Learn Tools for Emotional Wellness, and Get the Help You Deserve by Rheeda Walker
- Bipolar Faith: A Black Woman’s Journey with Depression and Faith by Monica A. Coleman
- Heavy by Kiese Laymon
- The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives by Iresha Picot