For black, brown, Asian, Latinx, and other persons of color (POC), finding a therapist of color, or someone who shares their ethnic, racial, or cultural background, can be one of the most valued factors in the therapist search process.
This can be especially important for clients who want to discuss topics of intergenerational trauma, discrimination, and oppression, or for whom these experiences have led to adverse impacts on their mental health.
If you are ready to find a therapist, you can search for therapists of color in NYC and Rhode Island. Read on for more information about finding a therapist of color, including stats on mental health field professionals, and why working with someone who shares your identity can positively inform your treatment.
How many therapists of color are there?
Only 16% of psychologists are racial or ethnic minorities, compared to the U.S. population that comprises of nearly 40% persons of color. Only 5% of psychologists are African-American.
However, more young, racial and ethnic minority professionals are entering the mental health field. The number of psychologists of color has nearly doubled between 2007 and 2017, and racial and ethnic minority representation of the psychology workforce increased from 9% to 16%.
How do you find therapists of color?
If you are struggling to find a therapist of color who fits your schedule, therapy budget, and/or specific mental health needs, try looking for therapists who explicitly address topics around multicultural counseling in their online presence. Keywords to look for can include:
- Multicultural counseling or culturally-sensitive care
- Affirming practices for people of color and marginalized identities
- A focus on first generation challenges, acculturation, and racial identity
- Addressing issues of power, privilege, and the impacts of structural oppression
If a therapist indicates that they work with clients from “all cultures,” you might ask more specifically on your initial call with the therapist what cultures they have experience working in, and if they’d be willing to learn more about yours.
How important is it to find a therapist of color?
While therapists of color are not by default the best clinicians to serve clients of color, they may be able to better identify and understand the reality of their clients’ circumstances.
Though many white therapists receive extensive training in treating diverse patient populations, multiculturalism, and providing culturally competent care, POC’s personal accounts attest to the challenges of raising race-related issues within the therapy room when this education is lacking.
Clients may find their experiences are given racialized or culturalist explanations, rather than being able to discuss societal and institutional structures that create these environments. Outright discrimination also exists in the therapist outreach process. For these and other reasons, people of color may seek to prioritize finding therapists of color.
When it comes to choosing a therapist, it is natural to want to sit down and speak with someone whose experience mirrors our own. A lack of available providers can stop someone from seeking therapy, based on an understandable fear of disconnection and misunderstanding – something you shouldn't have to actively worry about in sessions. Working with someone who understands, and/or strives to relate to you, can be an invaluable key in your therapeutic journey.