Black & Burnt Out: Therapy is a Vibe!
Yes, you read that correctly. Therapy is a Vibe! You have to be ready to do the work. As a mental health professional who advocates for therapy, I also believe that therapy is not for everybody. Let me explain. What I do believe is that every person's path to healing is different and that therapy can be one of the avenues. To know which path is for you, sometimes you need to explore your options. With that said, everyone should try therapy to see if speaking with a mental health professional is helpful to them.
By no means is therapy a cure-all but it is beneficial, purposeful, and intentional. Therapy is not a one size fits all model. Each individual comes to session with his or her own unique experiences and concerns. Finding the right therapist is key. The relationship that you and your therapist build together is significant to the therapeutic process. Now you are probably wondering how do I find the right therapist. First, let me congratulate you on taking steps towards a healthier and happier you! Second, you can either go through your health insurance or your company's EAP (employee assistance program). Additionally, you can search for therapists via online directories like Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us), Therapy for Black Girls (https://therapyforblackgirls.com/), and Open Path Collective (https://openpathcollective.org/) just to name a few.
The therapeutic alliance between therapist and client starts at the initial point of contact. Once you have identified a therapist that you would like to work with, then my suggestion would be to see if they offer a free consultation. The consultation serves a dual purpose. For one, it sets the expectations for counseling, insurance/fees per session, scheduling availability, and any other questions you may have for the therapist regarding experience, modality, and/or just the overall process of counseling, etc. Secondly, the consultation serves as a brief screening to determine if both clinician and client are a good fit for one another. The counselor uses this opportunity to try and assess if the potential client's issues are within the scope of their practice/competence and/or if the client would benefit from a higher level of care such as outpatient therapy. The potential client can also use this opportunity to determine if the clinician is someone they would like to work with based on such factors like how the therapist sounds and answers the client's questions, etc. At this point you have either decided to move forward with scheduling your first session with your new therapist or you are still looking for a therapist that you connect with. A phone conversation provides you with a snapshot of whether or not you will connect with the therapist, whereas the initial session gives you the entire picture.
Research shows that second to the client (40%), the therapeutic relationship (30%) determines the client's ability to make changes regardless of the practitioner's treatment model or theoretical orientation. (Asay & Lambert, 1999 and Lambert & Ogles, 2004) The rapport also impacts whether or not a client will continue with counseling services. I wish I would have understood the importance of this when I first went to therapy in my early 20s. My therapist was an older white male who worked at my University's Counseling Center. I don't recall if the counseling center's intake paperwork allowed me to choose a therapist or if I was just paired with someone who had availability. What I do know is that I never went back to that therapist after he referred to my friends as the homies. I'm quite sure the therapist thought that he was building a rapport with me by using language that he assumed I utilized or could relate to. All he did was offend me and turn me off to the process. The vibe was all off and I never scheduled another session with him. I remember one day, one of my counseling graduate professors told the class that the client is not going to remember your interventions or what theory you ascribe to but what they will remember is the relationship. This to me was the therapy version of the infamous Maya Angelou quote, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."
Therapy is an experience that affects your entire well-being. It is a journey that should be taken with someone you vibe and connect with. As a client, you will be sharing parts of yourself that very few people, if any, know about. This is why trust and rapport is so important to the process. Oh and just to let you in on a little secret, there are times when we as therapists don't like our client. I know we are suppose to be nonjudgmental and accepting, but the reality is that mental health professionals are human beings first. If a therapist finds him or herself experiencing counter transference, please seek guidance, consultation, or supervision as soon as possible. There is an art to conducting a phone consultation, which I am still trying to successfully navigate. During my consultations, I ask the potential client to briefly share his or her concerns, I let them know whether or not I have experience with that issue, and then I go over fees/insurance followed by any questions they may have for me. Now here comes the awkward but I feel necessary part. I then ask them if they want to schedule a session or if there are other therapists that they are checking out. If they want to move forward with a session we discuss availability, along with cancellation fees, and the information for telehealth or in-person services. If they say they are still looking to speak with other therapists before making their final decision, I tell them that I understand and that it is important that they find a therapist who is the right fit for them to help them on their journey and that if they do decide to go with me they can just reach out to me to schedule a session. What's important to me is not whether or not I secure the potential client, but instead making sure the potential client knows that I want what's best for them even if I am not the right therapist to accompany them on their wellness journey. Therapy is a vibe!
As a therapist have you ever been on the other side of the couch? Do you as a private practitioner offer a free brief consultation? As a client, what do you look for in a therapist? How do you, the client, determine the right therapist for your concerns? Do you think the therapist client relationship is important to the process? #blackandburntout #stepstowardswellness #therapyisavibe #findingtherightfit #therapy #counseling #wellness #selfcare #Blacktherapistsrock #Therapistsrock #mentalhealthawareness #mentalhealthmatters #mentalhealth #psychologytoday #therapyforblackgirls #openpathcollective #findatherapist #itsokaytonotbeokay #therapeuticrelationship #therapeuticalliance #counselors #socialworkers #psychologists #therapists