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What does it mean to be Black and mentally ill? For a lot of people in the Black community, it translates to being Black and alone; Black and afraid; Black and isolated or Black and self-medicated. The inner city is flooded with liquor stores, trap spots and churches, sending the message that to fix our problems we either pray about them or drink and smoke them away.

We all know that the foundations of psychology nor the principles of its origin did not have people of color in mind. While others were taught to speak about their problems and get to the root with psychotherapy, the Black culture was conditioned to keep secrets and never acknowledge the truth. We (the Black culture) don’t share our problems, and from the mouth of every head of household comes, “What goes on in this house, stays in this house.”

For centuries, the Black community has fought its way through the negative thoughts, emotions and behaviors that stemmed from complex trauma. From slavery to systematic oppression to societal discrimination, the Black community and other people of color have had to find their own way through the healing process.

Over the past few years, the importance of accessing quality mental health treatment in Black and brown communities has increased. It is 2022, and many people are now asking the question that everyone wants to know the answer to: “Do Black people go to therapy?” The short answer to that is “yes” — but they don’t stay there.

Black and brown communities have felt ostracized in their ability to find mental health treatment that fits them. This has led many of them to feel discouraged and unheard. Before we ask people of color to “heal” or to go to therapy, we must first identify the types of clinicians who are more beneficial to their recovery.  

What type of clinician is truly beneficial to people of color?