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What can an African American therapist help with?

An African American therapist can help clients of all races address their mental health, but having an African American therapist can be especially important for African American clients. African American clients may feel that it’s easier to begin therapy and connect with someone who has direct experience as a person of the same race; they may have less to explain and feel safe enough to reveal vulnerabilities and difficult problems of all kinds.

What are the advantages of seeing a Black therapist?

The advantages of seeing a Black therapist are that it may help Black patients feel more confident beginning therapy, feel more easily understood, and feel a stronger connection to the therapist. For example, being a Black man in the U.S. is a specific experience, one that a Black male therapist inherently understands. Race and ethnicity can also inform attitudes about mental health, such as stigma against therapy in some cases. A therapist with whom one is culturally aligned will be aware of potential sensitivities and better able to address them.

What is a culturally sensitive approach to therapy?

A culturally sensitive approach involves a therapist understanding a client’s background, experience, and beliefs as they work together. This may pertain to the client’s race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, or disability. Recognizing the influence of culture and the reality of cultural differences can help the client feel better-understood. This, in turn, can potentially strengthen the therapeutic alliance.

How can I recognize a culturally competent therapist?

Cultural competence is a therapist’s ability to understand a patient’s cultural background and values in the context of treating their mental health. This understanding can span a client’s race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, age, and more. Clients can find a culturally competent therapist by asking questions such as if the therapist is familiar with the patient’s culture or beliefs, if they’re willing to learn more about those domains, and if they received training in cultural competence.