Finding the right therapist

Black teenage boy having counselling with mental health professional during therapy session. (Getty Images)
Black teenage boy having counselling with mental health professional during therapy session. (Getty Images)

Mental health is just as important as physical health, but finding the right therapist to help can feel like a daunting task.

For many African Americans, historical and social mistrust of the medical system, lack of culturally competent providers and concerns about cost can create additional impediments.

But seeking help is a sign of strength. With the right resources, finding a therapist who understands your unique experiences and needs is possible.

Therapy is a deeply personal experience, and being able to have a strong connection to your therapist is key. A good therapist will create a safe, non-judgmental space where you feel comfortable opening up about your challenges and goals. Look for someone who respects your cultural background, values your perspective and tailors their approach to your needs.

Executive director of the Martin Luther King Community Center Allison Luthe understands that a lot of the searches for mental health professionals and therapists begin with acknowledging you are unwell.

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“We want the community to know it is okay to not be okay,” Luthe said.

In the Spring of 2023, the MLK Center opened the Beloved Community Outreach Center. Today, the outreach center provides mental health counseling to many community members free of charge (depending on one’s zip code).

Many health insurance plans cover mental health services. However, the extent of coverage can vary. Begin by contacting your insurance provider to understand your benefits. Ask about in-network therapists, co-pays, deductibles and session limits. Don’t hesitate to ask for clarification on any confusing terms or policies.

When searching for a therapist, ask for referrals from trusted friends, family members, doctors or community organizations. There are also reputable online directories to explore therapists by location, specialization and insurance coverage.

It is important to consider cultural competence, so search for therapists with experience working with people from diverse backgrounds or who specialize in issues relevant to your community. Most therapists offer brief consultations to discuss your needs and see if it’s a good fit, some even for free. Be sure to prepare a list of questions about their approach, experience and fees.

Finding a therapist is an investment in you and your future. If you struggle with emotional distress, relationship problems or life transitions, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.

Mental health clinician Lee Ivey believes the idea of making our mental and emotional health an emphasis is something we need to share with the world.

“This is an idea that we don’t want to monopolize, but radicalize,” Ivey said. “We want places like [the Beloved Outreach Center] everywhere.”

By prioritizing your mental health and finding a therapist that is right for you, it is easier to embark on a path toward healing and growth.

Contact multi-media & senior sports reporter Noral Parham III at (317)-762-7846. Follow him on Twitter @3Noral.