It’s Hard to Search for a Therapist of Color. These Websites Want to Change That.

Jul 16, 2021 · 91 comments
Youngjoo (Maryland)
I found a therapist who is in-network. I had hoped to find one who is AAPI to help with the pandemic racism I had encountered. The rising hate crimes against AAPI people in the country really shook me, and I wanted a therapist to help me navigate these struggles. Sadly, I could not find an AAPI therapist who was in-network taking new patients. I am satisfied with the therapist I have. I hope others have success in their search.
Some of these comments, are a perfect example of why black people need a therapist who is also black. The world we live in is one of constant gaslighting, degrading, diminishing and false equivalences. It’s so exhausting being black. Constantly, white people, who are in power and are the majority, try to compare what is a default or standard for them, for our need for a similar experience. How do you live your life so willfully obtuse? So triggered by black people having ANYTHING? It’s why we need therapy. Racism is alive and well. Why would it bother you that a person of color, wants a person of color for a therapist ????
Bruno (Harlem)
“ some websites cater to a more niche set of users,” Hmm…I had not realized that someone’s race or gender identity was a niche…
Carlyle T. (NYC)
Gee! I thought that one's pain was colorblind.
Nick (NYC)
I wonder when the bubble with burst on this recent bloom of racial niche apps and services. For this service to find therapists of color (TOCs), I fully understand the fact that these may be harder for patients to find because there are simply way more white people in this field. But then the market for this service is extremely limited. How can it scale? If it were a service for finding therapists in general (including those dreaded white therapists), then I can see it having legs. But how can it stay afloat when it limits itself to such a small niche? Like most/all app launches this seems more an artifact of cheap capital and marketing than anything else.
Artsfan (NYC)
As a white female therapist, just a reminder that a few decades ago nearly all therapists were white male analysts who thought women felt deprived because we have no phallus. That made for a pretty dehumanizing situation. I see people of every race and national origin in my practice (and sometimes for a BIPOC person ours is a first or rare interracial intimate connection) but fully support the increase in BIPOC therapists. People seeking therapy need to be able to choose who they want to help them.
George matteson (Maine)
I participated in 4 years of psychoanalysis when I was in my 30’s. The partnership was often combative owing mostly, I see now 40 years later, to my own skepticism and resistance to being patiently “nudged” to where I needed to go. I now understand that, though everyone who hopes to realize personal goals must devote special attention to their particular anxieties, the actual suite of difficulties is quite mundane and generously spread over all cultures. An experienced therapist, whatever his background, should be able to tease out the roots of anxiety. However, the basis of this process is one of trust and the sooner a sense of trust is established the sooner the real work can begin. One of the pitfalls of psychotherapy is the desire to find a therapist who is “on your side”. It validates the status quo but gets you nowhere. The really difficult work has to be done by you alone; sorting out your self under the guidance of a disembodied voice across the room.
Laura (Stamford, CT)
I have tried to find a vegan therapist because my feelings of despair come in part from knowing about all the suffering inflicted on sentient, intelligent beings who are not so different from humans. It is hard to fathom the degree of cruelty to animals and I struggle how to handle that. Nonvegan therapists don't get it.
abc (nyc)
this is great and need. I would love an option to also select immigrant or not,
Kyle S. (Saint Paul)
I've read several comments that I think reflect a general misunderstanding of the importance of finding a good fit in therapy. I want to share my thoughts as a therapist. You need to feel like you can work with your therapist, it is a very intimate relationship. I see my doctor for about an hour or three a year (still reasonably healthy), I'll see clients for 12 to 150 hours a year - in deep personal conversation with them about some of the most important things in their life. I'm not worried about people feeling that they would like to find a provider who can personally connect with the feeling of being a Black woman, or a L.G.B.T.Q. identified person. That can very much matter to someone seeking therapy and should be supported. I'm not worried about therapists offering free initial consultation, there are plenty of professions that do this. Therapists are running a business and the nature of the business is such that I think it benefits from starting with a zero cost/obligation sales meeting. The thing that I worry about is that my rate is over twice what some of these services charge in MN. I want to know why Hurdle and Ayana are charging so little, and how their therapists are expected to make a decent living. Mental health services need greater public support; regulation that leads to higher reimbursement by insurance, 'any willing provider' statutes nationally, and more public funding. If BIPOC therapists are needed, they need to get paid too.
Red Star (Over here)
My therapist is black and I’m not. I didn’t choose him for that reason though; I chose him, and even waited to be his patient— until he had an opening— because he’s the best for more reasons then I can fit into this box.
Karen (Bay Area)
I’m just your average white lady but am weighing in with support and good luck with building the profile lists and resources described in this great story. As a young woman I was bereft over not being able to have a baby. My loving, but worried husband suggested I talk to a professional. I was able to connect with a therapist with a specialty in female infertility. Like many issues of sad or lonely or troubled people—this was not a problem in search of a solution. This was a devastating sorrow that I needed help in dealing with. How to handle the rampant insensitivity of others; when to take a sad day off work; what words worked to fend off useless advice; should I join a resolve group. Nobody, and I do mean nobody who had not experienced this pain would have been the right therapist for me. The lovely and kind Marsha HAD gone through infertility herself. Any white person commenting here who implies this is reverse racism, or suggests that these black people would only hire a black baker, has not taken one minute, ever, to imagine or empathize with the lived experience of black people in this country.
Todd (Key West)
It amazing me that this sort of self segregation isn't seen a more problematic. If everyone picks their doctors, therapists, butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers on the basis of race it seems like a giant step in the wrong direction
Lou (Beach)
@Todd Finding a therapist who is a good fit is a step in the right direction. Comparing therapy to a cake is a giant step in the wrong direction.
Kelly (HereandThere)
@Todd Really ? Comparing a relationship with someone who nows you on a level deeper than anyone else on the earth to a relationship with someone who can help you decide between the buttercream and chocolate ganache !?! Thank goodness for the myriad therapists with their differences and for our opportunities to decide who amongst them hears us best.
Casey (ft. lauderdale)
Are you referring to a color other than off-white? I think PODC (person of dark color) is intended.
V (Nyc)
@Casey no, light or medium skinned Asian, South Asian, Latin all qualify as POC
This is from last July ... Did not agree then and don't now .... when you have issues -- you need to feel safe not comfortable.
Joe (San Antonio , Tx)
Then is it appropriate to only request white men?
Lou (Beach)
@Joe Sure, there’s plenty of them out there to choose from! In fact, the last time I looked for a therapist in my area, 95% of the practitioners were white, and roughly half of them were men. There was exactly one Hispanic therapist. So if you feel that a a white male therapist is the best fit for you, you’re in luck, you’ll have no trouble finding one.
Eric (New Hampshire)
I have plenty of professional colleagues and personal friends who don't match my demographic, and a person doesn't need to be a 50ish, hetero, white, male and raised in the same corner of my home state in a bi-national family with two sisters and no brothers in order to be able to understand me. Education, training, exposure, and empathy is what makes it possible for a therapist to understand a patient. Cultural awareness is helpful, but having the same skin color doesn't give cultural awareness.
V (Nyc)
@Eric the lived experience of being marginalized in a racially hostile culture is different from whatever cultural awareness you think you're speaking about
xyz (nyc)
race and culture are not synonymous! a White Italian has a different culture than a White American even an Italian American!
terry (AMERICA)
ok so as a person non Caucasian i'm supposed to distinguish between the two Caucasian humans by what exactly?
Eric (New Hampshire)
@terry. The same way that progressive Whites distinguish between black kids whose parents have been in the US for generations and have $10M+ in assets (e.g. Sasha & Malia Obama) and black kids who are refugees and just got off the plane from East Africa --- namely we don't and we try to treat all of them with the same high level of respect.
another immigrant (NYC)
"After you’ve located someone promising, ASK FOR A FREE “get to know you” session where you can interview the therapist.." While this is ideal, a therapist who provides more than a brief screening phone call is rare. Why is mental health services deemed worth SO MUCH LESS than other health services that one expects a FREE session? When was the last time you got to interview a physician ahead of time and ask that they DONATE 45-60 mins for FREE? Think about that. You'd be lucky if you got 15 minutes of the physician's time while their backs are turned against you. Why is mental health treated so differently?
terry (AMERICA)
just my two thumbs social economic back ground annd maybe race.just saying.
Kyle S. (Saint Paul)
@another immigrant I'm a therapist, and I make a point of offering a free half-hour consultation to potential clients. If you are thinking about it in business terms, it isn't a donation of time, it is a sales meeting. I have had appointments with bankers, realtors, leasing agents, car sales-people, general contractors, lawyers, etc. where I never paid them anything for the time they took to educate me about what they had to offer. I don't need to like my doctor, I just need to trust that they are going to be able to diagnose my medical issues.
Nancy (Maryland)
@another immigrant When I moved to another part of the US several decades ago, I asked primary care providers if I could meet with them for 10-15 minutes to see if we were a good fit. Hardly any doctors would do this, but I did find one. She was fantastic and a truly kind, knowledgeable and caring professional. I can see that if all doctors provided a no-cost info session before signing, there might be many doctors without patients.
Greg Gearn (Altadena, CA)
Not all black people are the same. Not all Asians are the same. Not all Latinos are the same. Even white people are not all the same. While all kinds of people share some experiences, choosing a therapist based on what you share risks having what makes you unique undervalued and perhaps overlooked. Every individuals’ experience of racism, homophobia or transphobia is unique and should be treated as such. Often in therapy, the process of explaining yourself and defining who you are as an individual is one of the most powerful experiences in therapy. Skipping some of that because you and your therapist think you already know is a lost opportunity and, rather than a chance for growth, it becomes a chance to be erased as a unique individual with unique problems.
Unsung (Hero)
@Greg Gearn "Even white people are not all the same" A very strange statement if you really think about it...
This is exactly what I wanted to say. I cannot improve on your explanation!
Hank (Chicago)
@Greg Gearn Everyone's experience of racism, homophobia, transphobia and etc. is unique. Agreed. But if I can do anything to reduce my chance of being subjected to those things when I am at my most vulnerable, I'm going to try to do that. Self-care. I've got personal work to do, and I don't want to spend my sessions providing remedial cultural education to my therapist, waiting for them to become competent enough to help me. I am a loving and generous person, but I do volunteer work to give space for that. My last attempts at finding someone to work with had me in two people's offices, the first for seven months, the second for ten. They were both sweet and friendly and well-intentioned, and I don't doubt that they could do good work in some contexts, but they were unable to close the gap of "otherness" between us, and my time and effort weren't helping. That I spent so long with each of them is a sign of how much I could have used some actual help. I can be as open-minded, curious, and eager for growth as you please, but I am only half of the equation. Vetting a therapist by sub-group doesn't guarantee success, and will filter out some potentially helpful people, but it can reduce exposure to some sorts of re-injury and harm.
Martha Goff (Sacramento)
The artwork accompanying this article is gorgeous. Love the detail, the colors, the balanced and harmonious layout. I hope to see more work by this artist in the Times.
Brooklynite (New York City)
I’m a therapist who has primarily worked with Latinx and Black clients. I’m neither, though I am mixed race and am hard to place. With some clients my race/ethnicity didn’t seem to matter. Some told me they actually preferred someone different. There were various reasons—for instance, they felt I wouldn’t judge them the way someone in their group might, or that their private concerns wouldn’t somehow get out into their community (even though confidentiality and a nonjudgmental space are integral to every practice). Perhaps as it sometimes is when we feel more comfortable opening up to a complete stranger, so did they entrust me with things they’d never told anyone. Above all clients want to feel safe and understood, and if I was able to provide this for someone of a different race/ethnicity it was enough of a foundation on which to build a solid therapeutic rapport. But for others, there was something they needed in the therapeutic rapport that I wasn’t able to provide. Imagine you’re a 55 year old woman. You’ve just been through a horrible menopause and a hellish divorce, and you’ve been assigned a female therapist who is 23. Do you feel your therapist will understand you? Some will, but others would rather talk to someone closer to their age. I’m glad there are more options for people of all races and ethnicities to find the help they seek and deserve.
BD (Florida)
Or you could look on Psychology Today’s website which offers a search function for therapists and other mental health services based on zip code and a variety of other factors, including insurance type, treatment approach and race. Therapists usually include a photo and a self description of their practice. My sample size is small but I’ve been told by several therapists that most professionals use the site.
Lou (Beach)
@BD That site is mentioned in the article.
Psych NP (NYC)
As a clinician of African descent, it has meant so much to me working with and supporting people who LOOKED LIKE ME!!! I can remember when I started working as a psychiatric prescriber, new clients would look so SURPRISED and HAPPY that I was a POC. I think besides patients appreciating my cultural competence, they also expressed gratitude that I LISTENED TO THEM. What I found missing from this conversation are the cultural barriers that make it difficult for BIPOC communities to feel comfortable opening up about the type of serious issues that occur in the clinical setting. We have often been told not to "Air family laundry," or to just "Forget about that stuff." Having culturally competent and or clinicians that look like them, helps to bridge that gap. For the record, I have had 2 therapists, both women; the first was black and the second (and still my current) is Jewish. She gets me and has been such an important part of my growth and healing! Now she's helping me to grow professionally.
kfm (USVI)
Empathy and competence. Whatever that takes and however that appears. You know it and you feel it when you find it. Choices and options matter. (Do not settle for less.)
Listening (nyc)
For 4.5 years I have been in therapy, breaking down to what is called in the culture EP (just one..LOL not many) emotional part in therapy. Every single time, I would leave therapy not knowing what just happened and would tell my husband ooh I do not think this therapist knows me ...she knows something or some part but not me fully. The normal, successfully employed, married, with many friends. They knew only the trauma part that showed up cause deep inside I felt unsafe with talking to a person who does not get me or my culture or my colour - nada! I never panicked, went to psychosis, or took meds. Because my culture, self is not so easy to break and also when I tried to explain who I am in therapy and who I am outside of therapy is like day and night - I was invalidated to believe I was not different outside. I knew me in therapy - paralyzed. I knew me outside in therapy normal. So not sure the therapy knew both - they could not unless they read minds. Pure gaslighting! Then one day, I had panic at home and I lost my faculty - couldnt do my job. boom! I integrated. I would highly recommend, whites go to black therapist. Black therapists - most of them anyway, have embodied and real experience of being invalidated, oppressed and dismissed - which is also same thing that causes mental health in trauma (on the top of the trauma). They will empathize with your alienation not make you fit into a box! Culture and race really matter in mental health - nothing else.
polymath (British Columbia)
I'd be far more concerned to find a therapist who is a good match for my psychological needs than one who is a good match for my skin color. My deeply held belief is this: If you would not print advice on how to find a White therapist — and I very much doubt you would — then you shouldn't print advice on how to find a therapist "of color".
Kindnest (New Jersey)
You are missing the point. It happens all the time, ‘How to find a therapist?’ The white is assumed.
Kay (Bay Area)
Fifteen years ago I worked with a white male therapist. I was desperate for help and I couldn’t find a Black therapist to go to. (And being in the Bay Area doesn’t help.) It was a nightmare. Talk about being re-traumatized. As someone commented, do you want to spend your time and money educating the therapist? Yep, that was only part of my experience with this therapist. Since then I’ve worked with only Black women therapist. But I still ensure I’m shaping my sessions not the other way around; It’s all about me. A complement to individual therapy are therapy groups centered on work-place trauma. Black and Brown employee experiences in workplaces are hurtful and toxic. And yes we need to be able to talk about this amongst ourselves with guidance from Black and Brown facilitators/ therapist. Healing circles, as some are called, are popping up at workplaces with all safety/ confidentiality clauses and procedures in place. Some say they are helping them especially as we return to offices after 18 months. The character “ Randal” on the NBC TV program “ This is Us” started his therapy journey with a white woman. Then after one session with this therapist he realized “no - I need someone else to help me.” He did his homework and found a Black male. And he also found a group to attend of trans- racial adoptees (which he is). So yes, sometimes you need individual and group therapy. But face it, you’ll might have to talk to a lot of therapist to find the right “match.
Alan (West Hollywood, California)
This is all like saying that a victim of sexual assault will only find empathy in a therapist who is themself a victim of sexual assault, or that a therapist treating depression and anxiety is incapable of treating such issues unless they have experienced it. I am a gay man with a straight white Jewish female therapist and a straight white Asian female psychiatrist. Both treat with empathy and professionalism and I wouldn't dream of leaving them to find a cisgender gay white male simply because his lived experience might match mine. I feel zero discomfort sharing and discussing with my diverse team anything that arises.
Sigh (NY)
No Alan, it is not the same. Mental health practitioners have specific courses of study that address sexual trauma. Empathy and rigorous training create a synergy that benefits the clients. The intellectual understanding of trauma in the black community is evolving. The empathy may be there, but the psychological impact of generations of cyclical hurt and pain specifically as it has evolved in the black community has not been fully unpacked. Black folks seeking help for their pain walk into this void, missing the acknowledgement that comes from being understood.
dr. c.c. (planet earth)
The real problem in finding a good therapist is competence, and whether or not it is exercised. I have had many therapists and psychiatrists, and am always surprised when they talk about themselves excessively or do not seem to understand or empathize with my feelings, especially those of depression.
Tito J (Jacksonville, Florida)
Few people question why white women seem so drawn to working with primarily white female therapists. But when black women and men express a similar wish to work with someone that is black, it’s an issue? Now that access to black therapists is available to everyone, let the competition for the best therapist of any sex or color begin. In theory, one might expect a significant increase in white women seeing black therapists now, simply because they know how to find them.
Mary (Hudson Valley)
My biracial children have an absentee father. I am white, he is black. They have experienced racism and we have many discussions about race and racism in our house. My kids and I both know that my skin color limits my complete understanding of their black experience. I have actively been looking for therapists of color who can help them work through their stuff: an absentee father and process the racism they experience, among other things. It has not been easy. I have found a white male therapist for my son, coming to the conclusion that the therapy itself is most important, but really wish I could find a black man who can relate to my child's experience.
CH (Brooklynite)
I am white, and disgusted by the people in this comments section who think someone of color trying to locate a therapist of color is discriminatory or racist. Have you ever tried to assist a loved one who is a person of color through a depression or mental illness? I hope you never have to, but if you do, educate yourselves about color blindness and white supremacy first.
Shelby (Out West)
Making skin color the first priority in finding a mental health professional seems to me to be counter-productive. I would put competence and compassion ahead of this.
Then do that for yourself. Let others find someone they believe they can relate best to.
Barbara (Coastal SC)
A patient must feel understood by a therapist in order for the patient to open up enough for therapy to work. That generally means some shared experience. It's not only Black clients, but people from many backgrounds who would benefit from such resources. As a Jewish woman who grew up among Christians, it helps enormously when someone understands what that feels like.
perltarry (ny)
Feelings of being loved, betrayed, loneliness, anger, sadness, etc go to the primal core of mental health treatment. If your therapy is swimming in cultural issues, while likely relevant to a point, it is probably not going deep enough. If one feels more comfortable working with someone from their own culture that's fine. But the real work requires getting to the very basics of our emotional and cognitive lives. And that is a deeper dive that uncovers things about ourselves that are more universal and not particularly culture bound.
CH (Brooklynite)
@perltarry Do some research about the intersections of cultural identity, experience, and mental health, so that you better understand the impact of "cultural issues" and its relevance to therapy.
Barbara (Coastal SC)
Just like an old friend who knows one's past and understands its relevance without explanation, a culturally sensitive therapist makes a huge difference in patient experience and outcome. I say this as both a therapist and a patient. While this article features Black culture, this is also true for those of certain religions. It was really hard for me to explain issues to non-Jewish therapists who knew little about Judaism or about growing up Jewish in a town where we were the only Jewish family most of the time.
Lawrence Bentley (Westford)
From my own experience, most Therapists and especially Therapists of Color don't take Medicare/Medicare Advantage. It is as though establishing a proper relationship with Medicare is too hard for them. If they can't handle Medicare administration for reimbursement how can they address my issues? Think about that next time a therapist whines about private insurance, Medicare or require payment so you have to file claim. Either they can't afford billing staff or don't bother to learn how to be patient to learn how to deal with health insurance.
Sigh (NY)
Hello Lawrence, You bring up a very important issue. Access to mental health care can be prohibitively expensive to those that need it the most. Most psychiatrists in private practice will not accept government insurance programs. How to bridge that gap? From what I have seen, medicare/medicaid will pay for all of the expensive psychiatric medications a doctor will care to presribe, but the reimbursement for actual facetime with a psychiatrist is very low. While I will never negate the value of a psychiatric medication, we need a re-evaluation of how medicare/medicaid addresses mental healthcare for the masses.
Lisa Savage (Baltimore)
Great article. Having someone who understands the cultural nuances and language of a person is crucial in therapy. One site not included, but just as valuable is:
Ed Zachary (Chicago)
Somehow this idea of having therapists identified by their race, gender or cultural background seems illegally discriminatory. Employers can't say they only want to hire people with a specific cultural background. stores can't advertise that they are best suited for people of particular races or genders, real estate agents all have to have equal opportunity branding on their ads. This approach to therapists just continues the practice of putting people in little pigeonholes based on racial, cultural or gender based characteristics.
@Ed Zachary Discrimination laws pertain to housing and employment, not to therapist and patient relationships.
hen3ry (Westchester, NY)
There are two things I suggest people try when they are searching for a therapist. Ask if the therapist is comfortable treating someone with the problems they are having or that they want help with. Be brutally honest about your problems even if you aren't in subsequent sessions with the therapist. I speak from experience. I had issues with cutting myself. I was as honest as I could be. The therapist, in her turn, told me that she understood the problem and, when I asked some questions about it, said she understood how she could help me deal with it. The other part that helped me was seeking out a therapist who was a lesbian. Since I am a lesbian I wanted to be able to discuss certain things with a person who was a woman and might have had experiences similar to mine growing up. I had an experience with a previous therapist who felt that being LGBTQ was a lifestyle choice. And she didn't want to discuss the cutting. To her it was a red herring. I realized that that attitude led her to ignore my distress as well as downplaying what it meant to me. To repeat, be as honest as you can be during the first meeting when you are deciding if you want to see this person on a regular basis. Discuss fees. And ask if the therapist is comfortable treating someone with your particular constellation of issues.
People posting here with that have a problem with people seeking out therapists of their won background need to read up on the harm that some therapists have caused patients before you posit that it's discriminatory according to your Pharisaic view of anti-discrimination. It doesn't matter that it doesn't "settle well" with you. People are actively being harmed by therapists who invalidate BIPOC patients and even in certain cases, committed malpractice and misdiagnosed BIPOC patients because of their prejudices. So why you don't worry the people who are being harmed rather than your lofty "ethics".
Zachary Standig (NJ)
I can see where this is coming from in which something as personal as therapy would require the therapist to be able to relate to the patient as much as possible however I can't put away the notion that this idea is still discriminatory even if it is for the right reasons
@Zachary Standig: Why don't you prioritize the wellbeing of the people being harmed by incompetent therapists instead of questioning if this sits well with you.
CH (Brooklynite)
@Zachary Standig Can you put away the idea that people of color have been harmed by discrimination for almost 200 years in this country and may need therapy that can acknowledge that with lived experience?
Liz V (USA)
@CH correction: 400 years
Rdc (Ny Adks)
Saw the headline and, as a visual artist, instinctively misconstrued the meaning into “color therapist” or “color therapy”. Blushing the color red with embarrassment.
David Henry (Concord)
A good therapist understands and values different cultures. Color is irrelevant.
Regina Giddens (Atlanta)
Nope. Not always true.
Lawrence Bentley (Westford)
@David Henry I disagree. A therapist can be excellent and not understand the struggles of POC. It is a fact of life that specific challenges are sometimes beyond understanding, which is why people need therapists in the first place.
CH (Brooklynite)
@David Henry Thats called color-blindness, and it erases the experiences of people of color and how racism has harmed their health and mental health.
Twinkle (NY)
I am a Black woman who has been in and out of therapy for years to handle specific issues. I went to a yt male therapist, who quickly identified that I needed to put my needs first. When I decided that I needed a Black woman therapist, he became defensive and enraged saying his sister in law is Black, so he didn't understand why I thought he couldn't help me. Years later, after marrying my husband, who happens to be yt, we went to a Black woman therapist, and it was a *disaster*. She would routinely cross her arms and legs, turn away and refuse to speak to me, and often laughed at me and sided with my husband. Finding a good therapist is not easy., but it makes good sense to want a therapist who can understand and reflect personal experiences. At this point in my life, I would *still* prefer a Black woman, but as we are not a monolith, I recognize that deep research still needs to be done.
B. (Brooklyn)
Something new under the sun: "white" spelled "yt." Why? Is it like the n-word, only different, not to be seen in full?
Twinkle (NY)
@B. no. It's become a common use instead of spelling it the same way as the actual color. There are many variations sprouting up. Many people prefer it. It also stops posts from being flagged on social media.
Kindnest (New Jersey)
Thanks, I had no idea what she was talking about.
Sanjana (San Francisco)
Was hoping you’d touch on how social media pages like BrownGirlTherapy on Instagram is filling that need to. Also is a wonderful resource.
Paul (Brooklyn)
Moderate progressive here. I have been railing with posts here to know the difference between racism and playing the card and preference and prejudice. I don't see anything wrong here if it is preference and not racism ie if somebody feels better with a man or woman or black or white or asian.
I am a licensed psychologist with 30 years of experience. I have treated black and Hispanic patients and several times have recommended they switch to a black or Hispanic therapist after we had identified the main conflicts and issues to be worked on. Rarely, however, was there success in finding a racially appropriate therapist. Thus, I am glad this effort has begun. A word of caution though, many states have drastically lowered the requirements for licensing and many under qualified therapists have hung out shingles. Be sure to ask about licensing, post doctoral or post MSW training and please drop the request for a free session. Does your dentist offer free cleanings? Or your internist? A five minute zoom or audio call is sufficient. And remember, a well trained, experienced and empathic therapist knows how to accompany you where you need to go not just exist within the confines of their own comfort.
xyz (nyc)
@B MANY Hispanics are White. Not all Hispanics are POC!
sfdphd (San Francisco)
I'm glad to see an increasing number of ways to connect with therapists who have diverse backgrounds. The more choices people have, the more likely that they can find someone who is a good fit. One size does not fit all. I encourage people to interview multiple therapists to find someone who feels like a good match.... Good therapists are happy to answer your questions and are open to discussing whatever you need to feel safe and comfortable... If you feel uncomfortable, then seek someone else....
Shamar (Jamaica, W.I.)
It would be interesting to learn more about identity groups by their cultural attributes and neurosis. Surely text books, research papers, and practitioners’ experiences are available.
Stale Frybread (Oakland)
So glad the mental health community is realizing that patients need a therapist who understands their cultural background. When I started therapy in the 1990s all the therapists I encountered were white. They were awesome but I think a Native therapist would have handled some of my treatment differently, especially when it came to integrating my healing into my family of origin. When I finally had a Native therapist (from my tribe no less!!) it was the most healing experience I ever had.
dr. c.c. (planet earth)
It is great that this woman created a referral system, but it was not necessary when I began practicing therapy. It is the concept of networks, which was introduced along with HMO's then PPO's that made it necessary. It does not seem to be real insurance to me; the patient should be able to choose their doctors.
Rationality (USA)
I am a South Asian and white therapist, and I can easier empathize with my clients of color by drawing upon my own lived experience of prejudice, discrimination, racial profiling. I welcome these discussions with clients because this is life in America. As an aside, the mental health community needs more religiously unafilliated practioners, atheists, agnostics, pagans. The therapy session is not your mission field!
Paula Seniors (Greensboro)
@Rationality Hahaha "Your therapy session is not your mission field" I am African American and remember giving talks in Central Asia and was shocked to discover that many of the profs teaching at the colleges were missionaries there to convert the Muslim students to christianity in these Muslim countries. "Your professorship is not your mission field"
Rationality (USA)
@Paula Seniors That is so disheartening but not surprising. Underneath the conversion is belief that you are not enough, and therefore doing it wrong. Underneath the conversion is a sense of pride and conviction that we know better- that our worldview is right, proper, and true. Yet, it's a false pride. Had we been born to different parents in a different culture, we'd likely be singing a different god(ds)/dess/pagan tune. It's arbitrary the particular religion of youth, and repetition does not make it True. Speaking of tunes, check out the song "Gift of Acceptance" by India Arie.
roy (new york)
I was very lucky to find two therapist when I was in need. After 9/11 I had a hard time dealing and also when I need marriage help. It's possible because I live in N.Y.C. I had a wider net to look into.
Astrochimp (Seattle)
It's hard finding the right therapist in general, and helping patients do that is a good thing, however: racism is bad news. Racism is always bad news. The skin color of a therapist, or a patient, only matters if the therapist and/or patient is racist. The article claims (see the 5th paragraph) that any therapist of the incorrect skin color (i.e., "white") is not trustworthy to certain people and not competent to consider the patient's personal lives and values. That is a racist attack on "white" therapists. Racism begets more racism, always. Imagine if someone set up a site specifically to help people connect, if they so chose, with "white" therapists. Racist? Absolutely! With "of color" people, it's the same. We need less racism, not more. To get there, we need to stop dividing people up by skin color, we need to understand that racism is not (nor has ever been) a one-way street, and that when considering groups of people or individuals, "race" is not real... unless you use "race" for profit, as the article topic, Charmain Jackman, does.
Kishi (CA)
@Astrochimp, so many people of color experience a lack of understanding around some of their most fundamental experiences. Even "well-meaning" white therapists, while certainly providing kindness and measures of empathy, still can put the client in the position of educating them around the reality of their circumstances. That's quite a burden for the one seeking help! Certainly, one need not be from the same background to understand another's circumstances, but too many people of color experience an egregious lack of understanding around race. We are steeped in a culture that operates unconsciously around racial dynamics and elevates the concepts of meritocracy and individual willpower while denying inherent inequalities. The practice of therapy, as progressive as it might be, doesn't require the therapist to be racially competent. It does not require that the therapist do his or her own work to reckon with the ways in which he or she is complicit with cultural myths. This puts the onus on the person of color to lay bare his or her most intimate self with someone who, as well-meaning as she might be, may not be completely trustworthy. Psychotherapy is an intimate practice. Trust is centrally important. It allows for deeper relationship to develop and, from this foundation, for therapeutic healing to take place. It needs to be OK to consider how people of color need (as we all do) to seek refuge in their relationships, particularly when seeking therapeutic healing.
Arami (San Francisco)
@Astrochimp A few years when I was going through a rough patch, I saw two different therapists - both white. While I benefited a lot from both those relationships, and I am grateful for the growth I achieved with their help, eventually I hit a wall with both therapists. I needed to explore more deeply questions around my cultural identity. Due to a lack of cultural LIVED experience, both therapists were not able to meet me there, so the relationships ended. As woman of color, it was hard to find someone from a similar background, so I found other avenues to explore these questions. White is always the default, but patients of color sometimes need someone who will act as a mirror to themselves in order to fully feel seen and understood. That is one of the values of therapy, to feel normalized in your experiences. It is hard to feel that with someone with someone who has lived different cultural or racial experiences. PLEASE do not dismiss our needs and believe us when we say that we know that we need something else. This article is spot on in terms of how I felt a few years ago and still feel today. While white therapists can be very capable in their area and professional experience, sometimes the nuance of lacking cultural competency can actually be damaging to a person of color. We need more therapists of colors to level the field and also more access to finding them.
dr. c.c. (planet earth)
@Kishi Practicing psychotherapy does require racial competence, but it is, indeed, intimate, and the client should be comfortable with her chosen therapist. Too bad insurance companies get in the way. Part of racial competence is knowing therapists of other races to refer clients to if they request it, and making them comfortable requesting it.