Deciding to see a therapist is one of the bravest things you can do as a man. Admitting you need help is one thing. Actively seeking out the person who’s going to hold your secrets and let you discuss your well-hidden inadequacies without judgement is an entirely different beast. The internet lacked any helpful articles offering a set of criteria as guidance for black men in finding a therapist. Being that I’m seeing one, I think I’m in a position to help some guy reading this.
Find a doctor who specializes in your background: You wouldn’t trust a white person to give you a low-cut caesar right? So don’t expect a white therapist to “get” you. Sticking with therapy is easier when you have a doctor who understands you as an individual. The therapist I see has dedicated his career to athletes and those who work in high pressure careers. He’s familiar with my world and the pressures of it. Because of that, he’s able to help me navigate with confidence and I respect what he brings to the table.
Avoid the doctor who wants to automatically label you: Most people associate therapists as diagnosing a patient. And some, like psychiatrists and psychotherapists, will do that. But seeing someone doesn’t mean that something is medically wrong with you. If it’s discovered that you’re bipolar or suffer from clinical depression, then the doctor will prescribe the proper medication to manage it. However, the whole point of therapy is to gain back control over your life mentally and emotionally. Medication plays a small part of that
Stay away from life coaches: My friend and I had a funny conversation about the popularity of these self-proclaimed life coaches. I don’t knock anyone’s hustle but the fact of the matter is a life coach is not equip to help you in a way that a therapist can. Just because their story mirrors yours doesn’t mean that they can get you to where they are. Plus, people are very good at putting up a front with their hustle. I mean, how many pastors do you know whose personal lives are in utter shambles? It’s not a therapist’s job to be your cheerleader or preach to you. You’re not going to get the keys to success or a relationship cheat code in a 6 week session. A great therapist is one that’ll strip you of your bs facade and force you to confront the “whys” and “hows” in your life.
Pick one that focuses on your particular need: Maybe you’re dealing with a loss. Maybe you’re tired of freaking out due to performance anxiety. Maybe you’re trying to get it together after a suicide attempt. Different therapists are available for any crisis you may be going through. There is no one-size-fits-all. For me, an event initiated my choice to see a therapist. Whatever becomes the reason that you decide to get professional help, it’s paramount to begin therapy with someone who has significant experience in that one area. Everything else will come.
If you’re married or in a relationship, it might be beneficial to get your significant other’s opinion about a therapist. Another one of the primary reasons that our community refuses to seek out therapy is because of the cost. Yes, therapists can be expensive. However, just like any other purchase or investment, you have to do your research. It’s very possible that you can find one who’s willing to work with you or based on the insurance you have, there’s a low co-pay. You don’t have to continue to live a life of mediocrity or suffer in silence.