Why You Do Not Need a Black Female Therapist
If you are a part of the African Diaspora, then you have an ancestral connection with making the best of what you have been given. Mental health care is no exception. When identifying a provider in your area that accepts your insurance, you have the added prerequisite that this person have profound insight into how you experience the world. It is not sufficient for them to conjecture about how the world might receive (or reject) you. They need lived experience of the intersectional oppression you might face if you are a Black, female, queer-identifying individual.
Unfortunately, the mental health field is predominantly cis-gendered female and overwhelmingly White. Therapy horror stories are told to me as a clinician with regularity in which someone seeking support sustains further trauma in the form of an encounter with a culturally incompetent therapist. The idea of cultural competency, a self-ascribed credential, is a joke. Who leads the cultural competency courses and trainings? Who is the arbiter of the qualifications to lead and develop content for the training?
In a forced-choice scenario of seek support or contend with depression or anxiety or other issues independently, there is only so long one might get by doing the latter. Unless you live in a metropolitan area, the statistics are not in your favor for having a therapist who looks like you if looking like you means Black and female. Nevertheless, you need the support. So to address the title of this article: you absolutely do need a Black, female therapist. When that is not available, you need the next best thing.
It’s not enough for your therapist to be no stranger to oppression as there is privilege in being White while being a woman as well as being White while also being queer. Your therapist needs to be able to acknowledge their privilege. They will need to be honest in their ignorance rather than try to position themselves as expert as their expertise is only that of mental health and even then, there are no absolutes. Ask your therapist questions beyond their credentials and treatment modalities. Your therapist needs to be comfortable discussing race and how it impacts your mental health at work and within your community. It is essential that your therapist be empathetic to media’s influence on your self-worth and self-esteem. If your therapist is resistant to these conversations and refuses to address their whiteness as a treatment issue, keep seeking out an appropriate provider.