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Got Psychotherapy Apprehension?

"I'm not crazy, so I don't need therapy." . . ."What will people think if they knew I was having therapy?" . . . "Therapy is for White people." . . ."The therapist may lock me up if I begin talking in therapy."

These are some of the thoughts that keep many of us from seeking help through psychotherapy. Let's address these one by one.

I'm not crazy, so I don't need therapy. First, "crazy" is not a term the professional mental health community use to describe people with thoughts and/or behavior that are personally distressing and one end of the continuum to abnormally impairing at the other end. What both have in common is a subjective sense of difficulty adapting with ones self or others around them. This is not crazy.

What will people think if they knew I was in therapy? This thought is a holdover from the days when the uninformed public thought that having any mental health care meant that you were crazy. People tended to keep it secret and found it embarrassing a family or loved one was seeking therapy. This cloud of stigma hangs over it less so today, but still is present. One step toward improving your mental well being is by refusing to let what others may think of you count more to you than what you think of yourself for taking the healthy step toward seeing an African-American therapist to help you better yourself.

Therapy is not for African-Americans. While it remains true that early mental healthcare in the 19th century held racially biased theories that served to treat African-Americans as inferior served to keep us oppressed, today many White therapists are studying to become more "culturally competent" so they can attempt to provide psychotherapy to us. So, the good news is that therapy is for us too and there is a small growing oasis of African-American therapists who have lived the life that non African-American must receive specialized training to be ready. So, therapy is for Our people too.

The therapist may lock me up if I begin talking in therapy. Long before the popularization of outpatient psychotherapy, mental healthcare hospitalized people for their compromised mental health functioning. Now, there is a boom of psychotherapy clinics for those who seek help in an outpatient clinic capacity. In a setting such as that, the only times that involuntary psychiatric hospitalization could occur against your will is if your mental disposition has become so severely compromised that the mental health professional has strong justification to believe that you pose an imminent risk to kill yourself, kill someone else, or unable to function to care for self. It would solely be an act to save a life. And, even then, most states have laws that prevent such involuntary hospitalizations for no more than a certain number of hours until when a psychiatric evaluation must occur to determine if the hospitalization is warranted.

So, enough with the unhealthy thoughts that talk you out of seeking psychotherapy. If you are struggling on your own to cope with disturbing events from your past or present then seeking help from a professional African-American therapist may be just what you need to improve yourself. You'd be crazy not to!

We Seek Help.

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