More and more people are opening up about their struggles with mental health. Society has begun to place a much higher priority on mental health and establishing a healthy balance.
With that, the resources available for seeking therapeutic services can be quite daunting to navigate. Finding a therapist that you jive with might require some work, trial, and error.
One important factor to consider when finding your therapy match is whether their practice meets your needs. Whether it be their approach, their experience, or if they are a culturally responsible practice.
What Is Culturally Responsible Therapy?
As of 2020, roughly 83% of psychologists were white. That makes it very disproportionately represented for other groups in the mental health realm. This holds significance considering people of color are more likely to suffer from mental health issues.
In order for a therapist to be culturally responsible, their practice must always be learning and evolving. They hold an understanding that no two people are the same, and a cookie-cutter approach will not be the most effective method. (Modern-day Western medicine is still very cookie-cutter in medical testing and treatment.)
It also means that they hold some level of knowledge about your respective culture and its values. This should be woven into all therapy sessions. They should use that understanding to guide your progress productively rather than providing feedback that could be harmful otherwise.
What Does This Look Like?
To start with, your therapist has done their homework. They have engaged in the ever-important self-reflection to gain better self-awareness. Everyone comes with built-in biases and learned behaviors and viewpoints over the years. They will have done work to learn from others and challenge their mindset.
They also engage in learning opportunities for continuous growth. Whether they share those with you or not, they are actively pursuing knowledge to improve their practice and understanding.
Your therapist understands that mistakes will be made and know how to navigate those if they come up during a session productively. They won’t let an uncomfortable situation become a roadblock.
There is an opportunity for your therapist to learn from you through “difficult” conversations as well, but they don’t place that responsibility on to you.
Your therapist should know that each person is unique, and part of that stems from your cultural background. They appreciate your differences and use this information to see how you approach situations.
They work with your values, upbringing, and beliefs about the world to build a rapport. You are respected for your differences, and they will try to make you feel comfortable and, more importantly, seen. Assumptions are not made about you based on your appearance to avoid stereotyping.
Culturally responsible therapists should strive towards integration. You, along with all the other clients, are asked about your cultural background and social identity. That information is then used to create a welcoming atmosphere.
From the beginning to the end, culture should be incorporated. Advertisements and marketing materials are inclusive. The office space decor reflects different cultures. Materials are available in multiple formats/languages.
Acknowledgment Of Social Factors
In today’s world, a lot is going on in everyday life that may be adding to mental health matters. Your therapist provides an open door for healthy discussion about any social situations that may be hitting the news hard at the present time.
It doesn’t need to be the focus of a session, but it might be contributing as a trigger. Having a safe space for those discussions can be huge in building a relationship and rapport.
If you are exploring options for a culturally responsible practice, let’s connect.