As with all physicians, therapists of every ethnicity accept black men as patients. However, finding the right therapist is one of many wellness roadblocks for communities of color. This blog covers the importance of therapy for black men, people of color, and other oppressed communities. As well as how to find a therapist who is a safe place to share.
Ensuring A Safe Place To Share
Unfortunately, subconscious bias isn’t checked at the door when you head to the doctor’s office. Not even a therapist or psychologist’s office. Even when a white therapist is diversity-trained and has a sincere desire to contribute to equity, equality, and change, they may not be the best fit for a person of color.
In a time where black men are ever so slightly more empowered to speak to the dangers they face in everyday life, a therapist who understands their day-to-day discrimination and inhumanity can make a world of difference. While shared or similar cultures or ethnicities won’t ensure a perfect match, it can mean the difference between successful therapy and therapy that doesn’t help. Even between therapy that does more damage than good.
For many people of color, especially black men, their therapist must be black for them to feel comfortable addressing racism. Not to mention, other tough topics that white therapists may not respond to with the same empathy and compassion as they would with a white patient. Or with compassion, but without a genuine comprehension of systematic oppression.
This includes topics such as:
- Family structure
- Black culture
- Immigrant cultures
- Non-Christian religions
- That church is currently the only other safe place to share
No Need To Code-Switch
To both survive and thrive in our communities, black men, women, and every immigrant and person of color is required to code-switch. To dress, speak, and be ourselves at home and a more “acceptable” version at school, work, or when outside of our ethnic culture. Those who live in authenticity, refusing to code switch, rarely have the same level of respect, success, and safety as those who don’t.
Code-switching is sometimes misunderstood as trying to act “white”, but it’s far more complex. It is currently the primary way to gain a fraction closer to the level of respect and equality every human being deserves.
Those who grew up in the United States learned to code-switch along with learning to walk, talk, read, and write. It’s something we watched our parents do and followed suit. Even if we don’t consciously know when we’re doing it, the weight of this duplicity wears us down.
Children of immigrants often try to hide their code-switching from their families and end up living with silent guilt and shame. In addition to duplicity.
So, therapy for black men is not only essential but must be a place where code-switching is not required.
Men Are Less Likely To Seek Out Therapy
In addition to ethnicity, there is always intersectionality. In this case, gender. In addition to black men being at higher risk for suicide and day-to-day oppression, men are less likely to seek out therapy than women.
Currently, 20.8 percent of women seek out therapy and only 11.2 percent of men. This number includes all Americans, and both numbers are lower for communities of color than white communities.
With the increase in racially motivated hate crimes, black men and other oppressed communities require a safe outlet. Therapy won’t resolve racism or hate of any kind, but it can help with “getting it out” and finding coping mechanisms for the lifelong trauma of oppression.
Even black men who were born middle or upper class, who break the cycle of poverty, or who break through countless glass ceilings still feel the daily impact of oppression. Even more so if they are of any other minority group—LGBTQ+, Muslim, immigrant, have mental health issues, or physical disabilities.
What Percentage Of Therapists Are Black?
The data is dated, with the most recent being from 2015 and 2016. Even then, the number of diverse ethnicities entering the therapy and psychology field was on the rise. Here’s a look:
- The psychology workforce was 88 percent white and 12 percent from ethnic groups.
- 32 percent of doctorates and 34 percent of early career psychologists were from ethnic groups.
- Overall, 86 percent of psychologists were white, 5 percent Asian, 5 percent Hispanic, 5 percent African American, and 1 percent multiracial or from other ethnic groups.
Where To Find Therapy For Black Men?
Don’t just search for your therapist by ethnicity, but also by area of specialty. This may mean searching beyond who is physician-referred. Begin by calling or browsing your insurance company directory to narrow the search field. An increasing number of therapists will provide their ethnicity and immigrant status to help patients find the right fit. If your insurance search falls short, perform an online search. For example, “therapy for black men in Atlanta.” Then, go to Google images to search visually too.
If you can’t find a local therapist of color or you don’t have insurance, there are plenty of resources available to you. If you are a veteran, reach out to the VA. Also, check your local non-profits and community centers.
You can also find a wealth of online resources. This includes free and discounted phone and virtual therapy.
- Apply for free therapy at Black Men Heal
- Scroll down to the bottom of this Mental Health America Post
- Visit the Zencare directory and therapy site
- Visit the Ayana Therapy directory and therapy site
- Search the Black Virtual Wellness Directory (BEAM)
- Search this list of the top virtual therapy websites for multiple demographics
- Read this Essence article for tips on how to access discounted therapy
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