Are You Ready For Therapy? Debunking Myths In The BIPOC Community
Psychotherapy is an important part of mental health care. It’s a service that offers valuable tools and strategies that can help process different emotions and navigate life’s challenges.
However, a lot of myths and false beliefs about therapy exist, particularly within Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities. These misconceptions can often be barriers that prevent individuals from reaching out for help and asking for the support that they need.
Below are some common myths about therapy. As we debunk them, we can help you better understand if you’re ready for therapy.
Debunking the Myths
Myth 1: Therapy is only necessary to help with a serious mental illness
This is one of the most common myths about therapy and it could not be further from the truth.
Therapy can be beneficial for anyone, regardless of what their mental health challenges are. It is as helpful to a person seeking clarity about their emotions as it is to a person living with a severe mental illness.
Life can present us with a range of trials and transitions: workplace stress, grief, relationship issues, self-esteem struggles, or the challenge of dealing with personal and societal expectations. Therapy serves as a confidential and safe space where you can freely express and explore your feelings. It provides you with practical coping strategies and tools to manage these situations and work towards your personal growth.
Myth 2: Seeking therapy is a sign of weakness
In some BIPOC communities, there is a harmful stigma that portrays seeking therapy as some sort of personal failure or weakness. This stigma often stems from deeply entrenched cultural narratives that equate emotional strength with silently enduring hardship and not asking for help.
Yet, the truth is, recognizing when you need help and taking steps to seek it is an act of strength and self-care. Therapy is a platform that helps you better understand yourself and manage your emotions. Acknowledging that you need support does not equate with failure – it signifies courage and the desire for personal wellbeing.
Myth 3: Therapy contradicts cultural or family values
Some of us within BIPOC communities may feel that seeking therapy undermines our cultural or familial values, which often prioritize communal resilience and strength. However, therapy is not designed to undermine these values. Instead, it offers additional tools to enhance personal and communal wellbeing. A community can only be as healthy as its individual members.
Our team of culturally responsive therapists work to understand and respect your cultural values. We practice integrating these values into the therapeutic process, ensuring that therapy supports, rather than contradicts, your cultural beliefs.
Myth 4: Therapists cannot understand the experiences of BIPOC individuals
This myth arises from a valid concern. The field of psychotherapy has historically lacked diversity, and many BIPOC individuals reasonably worry that a therapist may not fully understand our cultural experiences and unique challenges. This is exactly why Wellnest was founded!
As BIPOC psychotherapists, our goal is to facilitate access to the spaces and resources our younger selves once needed. We work to foster environments that honour different identities and values. We want people, no matter their journey or their identity, to feel seen and heard as they navigate their healing.
Myth 5: Family problems and personal challenges should NOT be discussed with strangers
Many BIPOC families believe that the problems that exist within a home or a community should not be shared outside of it – not even with a therapist. This belief is deeply engrained in the idea that it is shameful to make others aware of our problems and that we must always portray emotional and familial stability.
However, mental health (like physical health) can require professional help and input. Therapy can actually help address and overcome many disagreements and miscommunications between couples, family members, and within a community.
Myth 6: Therapy is unaffordable and inaccessible
It’s true that finances can be a barrier to accessing therapy. If this is the case, we encourage you to look for therapists who offer sliding scale rates (where a reduced rate is offered), use self-help books, or look into mental health NGOs.
At Wellnest, we have a number of therapists who offer sliding scale rates. If finances are a concern, we are happy to chat and discuss your options. Connect with us to find out more.
Am I Ready For Therapy?
Now that we’ve debunked some common therapy myths, let’s consider some signs that you might be ready to start your therapeutic journey:
- Persistent emotional distress: If negative feelings such as sadness, anxiety, or irritability persist over time and interfere with your daily activities, this could be an indicator that therapy may be beneficial.
- Difficulty coping with life changes: Life is full of transitions. Major life changes like loss, career shifts, or relationship changes can be challenging to navigate. If you find yourself struggling to adjust to these transitions, therapy can provide support and strategies for coping.
- Challenges in relationships: If you’re consistently experiencing difficulties in your relationships, therapy can help uncover potential underlying issues. It provides a safe space to explore these challenges and work towards healthier communication patterns and relationships.
- Behavioural changes: Significant changes in sleep patterns, appetite, and interest in activities can indicate underlying emotional distress. Therapy can help explore these changes and provide strategies for managing them.
- Desire for personal growth: If you’re seeking to better understand yourself, manage your emotions effectively, or work towards personal development goals, therapy can be a great resource.
Remember, choosing to begin therapy is a personal decision, and there’s no “wrong” reason to seek help.
If you identify as BIPOC and are considering therapy, understand that your worries and questions around starting therapy are valid. Remember that you can work on unlearning misconceptions or stigmas that deter you from seeking the support you deserve.
Practice seeking help when you need it and consider embracing the journey of self-growth that therapy can bring. Your mental health is worth it!
Until next time!
Zainib Abdullah is the founder, executive director, and a psychotherapist at WellNest Psychotherapy Services. Her approach to healing incorporates various therapeutic modalities. She works from a client-centred, anti-racist/oppressive/colonial & trauma-informed framework. As a yoga teacher and student in the lineage of Classical Yoga, she further incorporates mindfulness based therapies to support clients in accessing greater connectedness to their inner wisdom and peace.