Finding a therapist is challenging, especially if you’re already feeling overwhelmed with anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues. Although Black women have been making strides in their mental health journey many still compartmentalize their stress and trauma while holding on to generational cliches that prevent us from acknowledging that we need help. That’s why when making the decision to incorporate a therapist in your mental health journey finding the right mental health provider is paramount to break the stigma and begin a healing journey.
Here are some ways you can identify and vet the right therapists for you.
Identify needs that you want to address.
Knowing what you want from therapy can help you find the right therapist. Just like medical doctors, therapist specializes in different behavioral and mental illnesses. Pinpointing your exact needs will stir you in the right direction to optimize your mental health. Ask yourself if you need help in the dealing with following…
- Handling stress
- Dealing with trauma
- Relationship problems
- Dealing with grief
- Conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder
- Dealing with unhealthy or maladaptive behavior
Ask yourself, “Is gender, race, etc. important?”
Working with a therapist is a sensitive affair that needs careful selection. That’s why identifying someone whom you can be open with is vital. When I was vetting therapists it was important for me to go to a Black woman. I felt more comfortable being vulnerable with someone who could easily relate to the unique and nuanced experiences of Black women. Ask yourself if you will feel more at ease working with a specific gender, race, religion, or culture. This will help you feel more comfortable and open to sharing with your therapist.
Make sure your therapist is a licensed professional.
Social media has given everyone a platform to voice their opinions, experiences, and life lessons. Some folks have gained a large following by giving valuable advice by branding themselves as life coaches or life solutions service providers. However, it doesn’t mean they are qualified to be a therapist or counselor. If you want to see a change in your mental health journey then you need to talk to a licensed professional with credentials. Someone who is educated in the field and can diagnose and access your needs competently. Make sure your therapist has some credentials behind their name. Some types of therapists are:
- LMFT: Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
- LMHC: Licensed Mental Health Counselor
- NCC: National Certified Counselor
- LPC: Licensed Professional Counselor
- LCDC: Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor
- PsyD: Doctor of Psychology
- PhD: Doctor of Philosophy
Ask for referrals.
When searching for a referral start by asking your friends who you know are in therapy. Since they have done the vetting process before then they can share some therapists they’ve considered or attended a session with. Also, many databases can connect you with therapy services, and these can help you connect with a therapist you want that is near your location. Therapy for Black Girls and Health in Her Hue are great places to begin a search.
You can also check with your health insurance provider for referrals of reputable providers. They will likely have a directory of therapists who can accept your insurance to get therapy services.
Making the decision to see a therapist is a serious one. Because therapy requires you to be open and vulnerable it means that picking the right one is crucial. Don’t make the decision haphazardly. Being self-aware and well-researched will prepare you for your best mental health journey.