Welcome to the struggle! The joy! The self discovery! As someone who has looked for my own therapist and is a practicing therapist who is friends with therapists, let me share the most common questions and concerns I’ve received from potential clients and pro tips with a focus on my experience as a non-binary, queer person of color. Let’s dive!
How do I find a therapist like you?
You are so kind! Almost every therapist has a Psychology Today profile (LINK) and this allows you to filter based on what insurances they take, where they are located, and other nifty items. Though it’s good to have a wish list of what identities and specialties you want your therapist to have, keep an open mind and focus on who feels like a good fit for you.
PRO TIP: Make sure the person is licensed where you live, or where you dorm if you are a student. If you are not in our jurisdiction, we cannot work together 😦
Other therapist directories I recommend are:
www. nqttcn.com – The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network (I’m listed!)
www.ayanatherapy.com – A text-based therapy service, with a unique custom matchmaking service focused on culturally competent care. Currently only taking clients associated with certain companies and organizations that have signed up for their services.
www.inclusivetherapists.com – Founded by an Asian American woman! Also has a “reduced fee teletherapy” option and really sleek visuals for the service categories they provide.
www.openpathcollective.org – A directory of therapists who offer a sliding scale of $30 – $80 per session for people who do not have insurance and/or are experiencing financial hardship.
Isn’t therapy like, crazy expensive?
That depends on a couple of things. The main reason private practice therapists like myself will charge $125 – $200 for 45 minute sessions is because we pay for our own expenses and handle our own overhead necessary to run the business side of this work. As we take the risk of valuing ourselves at these rates and working in a smaller practice, your reward is working with a person whose education, experience, specialization, and demographics stood out to you as your ideal partner to work through your mental health and wellness needs.
PRO TIP: Ask if they have sliding scale options. Not always, but some therapists will set aside 1-3 “sliding scale” slots for clients who have financial hardship and/or are part of a demographic that they especially want to work with.
Do I have to cry? Do I have to talk about my childhood?
Short answer, only if you want to. My goal as your therapist is to focus on the thing you want to focus on. If your childhood is not relevant to your current therapy goal, we don’t have to go there. If you feel like crying as we make new discoveries and realizations about you and what you’re working on, you are allowed to cry. It’s your space!
To repeat the wise words of a fellow social worker: if you give me the truth, I will give you work based on the truth. If you give me a lie, I will give you work based on that lie.
Sometimes, folks feel insecure or afraid to say the “thing” they really want to work on. So they decide on giving their therapist only half of the truth or “kind of” the truth so they can log off and try to tackle the full problem with a tool that was only made to handle part of the problem. I mean, it’s your time and your money, and you are allowed to do that. You are also allowed to check your therapist, even ask for their opinion on how well you’ve progressed in your treatment goals, and see if that supports your decision making process on how you want to spend your time in therapy.
PRO TIP: Before the call, make a list of 1-3 goals you want to work on and try one out with this therapist. For example, “I’ve been depressed the past few weeks because this pandemic has kept me from my friends. I want to learn how to better manage my emotions, so I don’t spend too long feeling down.”
What is a consultation call vs. intake session?
A consultation call is about 15 minutes, its free, and it gives you the space to share what you want to work on and what you’re looking for in a therapist. That does not usually require you to fill out any documents. An intake session is likely a full 45-minute session that will be billed either at the therapist’s full rate or a reduce rate. You will be asked to complete some documents (e.g. contact form, credit card information, consent form) before the session. This gives you more time to share about your therapy goal, and do a “test run” with this therapist by presenting a problem and asking for their guidance.
You are allowed to interview your therapist. I had a pleasant experience with a cis white woman, that though she did not tick any of my boxes, it was an overall informative experience for her to think about how she shows up in the work and how I can not take it personally if someone I’m hopeful about working with doesn’t work out. And it goes both ways! You might feel like you want to push ahead, and the therapist might note that you would be better served by someone with a different specialty.
Here are some questions I recommend anyone to ask of any type of therapist:
- If the therapist is white or white passing: how do you manage any racial bias, internalized white supremacy and white fragility when working with clients of color?
- If the therapist is a person of color: how do you manage any racial prejudice when working with clients? (If I’m white) Do you feel comfortable discussing white privilege and white fragility with me, when relevant?
- What is your understanding of culturally competent care for someone of my race/ethnicity? Have you worked with clients of color before?
- How do you manage any gender bias, sexism, and/or internalized transphobia when working with a client of my gender?
- What is your clinical view of LGBTQ+ people and working with members of the LGBTQ+ community?
- I have had issues in the past with therapists who did not treat me well based on [this identity]. What is your experience working with people of this identity, or being trained in cultural competence for people of this identity?
I want to work on myself, but I’m not ready for 1:1 therapy yet. So?
I hear you, I got you. Options! Groups & DIY Mental Health.
Groups – Usually cheaper [if not free, in the $20 – $50 range] and is either run by a licensed mental health professional, a community leader, or trained peer leaders. You can usually find groups at local community centers, faith institutions, universities, foundations, nonprofits, or grassroot groups. Read through their mission and instructions, maybe invite a friend to come with you.
DIY Mental Health – This is in no way a substitute for a licensed therapist. However. These are my go-to’s when I provide supplementary material to my clients:
www.therapistaid.com – Holy Grail of worksheets, activities, and simple explanations to the most common mental health and wellness needs.
AFK Take This – If you’re into cons like MAGFest and KatsuCon, you have likely seen an “AFK Room” where Psychomancers (aka mental health professionals) are managing a quiet space filled with snacks, coloring books, sensory toys; and maybe a sectioned off nap area. Their resource page is great, with some interactive games, mental health apps, and printouts.
Therapy for Black Girls podcast – Dr. Joy is such a joy! Founder of the Therapy for Black Girls directory, she has over 190 episodes where she covers a wide range of mental health and wellness topics, often with guests that do this work in other specialties.
#therapistsofIG #therapistTikTok – But actually though! Some practitioners are putting out some really good content that break down tips, signs, and general advice in posts and short videos. Just double check if people are actually licensed mental health professionals, they will usually link their private practice website in their bios.
Last Pieces of Advice
I got three!
- You and your therapist work together. They meet you halfway, and you meet them halfway.
- Nothing has to be “wrong” for you to be in therapy. Therapy can also be a space to celebrate, feel good, and build strategies on how you can tap into your good vibes.
- If you feel uncomfortable, you are allowed to pause and gut check. Maybe even terminate and move on. It’s okay. Do what works for you.