J E N N A
As much as I believe that everyone can benefit from therapy, I can appreciate how scary it is to take that initial leap of faith and schedule an appointment with a stranger to talk about personal shit. To step into a therapist's office is to willingly subject yourself to the acute possibility of feeling disrespected or unseen, and for someone who is already skeptical of therapy, the smallest throwaway comment made by a new therapist can reinforce all their worst suspicions about the process. Even if a therapist's intentions are in the right place, you as the client probably don't want to have to break down the basics about your race, culture, gender identity, or sexual orientation. You're a customer, not an unpaid consultant.
I wish I could shield those of you reading this who may be more susceptible to a clinician's microaggressions, general ignorance, or any of the other countless ways humans inflict pain on to one another time and again, but I can't and you don't need me to protect you anyway! Yes, women of color and LGBTQ+ folks are underrepresented in the professional ranks of behavioral healthcare, but they very much exist in the field and I will do my best to point you in their direction.
I think we have all been let down by some sort of professional who seemed great on paper but underwhelming in person. Asking friends or friends of friends for therapist recommendations is the best starting point. I get that in many circles mental health is an uncomfortable topic of discussion if not outright taboo so this may not be possible for everyone, but you really just need one name to start. If you wind up following through with a recommendation and that therapist isn't taking on new clients, ask them to throw out some names of colleagues who might be! Most therapists who work within marginalized communities do so in a collaborative way and aren't trying to horde clients.
Pretty self-explanatory, but this is a directory of "mental health professionals across the country who provide high quality, culturally competent services to Black women and girls." The creator of the site, Dr. Joy, also wrote her own how-to on getting started with therapy, you can sign up to get it sent to your email inbox here.
Queer exchanges in particular are a great resource for finding LGBTQ+ friendly services, and therapy is no exception. Generally speaking, any Facebook group for special interests or a local community is a good resource for finding behavioral healthcare services so a FB group could work for WOC too.
More viable in larger cities, community mental health clinics offer therapy on a sliding scale. You will have to go through an intake interview in which you an specify what you're looking for in a therapist. Big caveat with this option: an intake coordinator is the gatekeeper to this process so you have to hope they listen to what you're asking for and that the clinic has the enough staff to accommodate any special requests.
Most LGBTQ+ community centers keep a running list of queer-friendly resources or have their own behavioral health clinics. A friend who works for an LGBTQ+ community center in Milwaukee says that her organization only refers people to therapists that other clients have personally vouched for and she would like to think other LGBTQ+ community spaces do the same. Check LGBTQ+ health centers too, I know Callen-Lorde in NYC offers quality mental health services.
If you are unable to find a therapist through the above resources it might be time to check Psychology Today, a huge nationwide therapist directory that allows you to filter your search by zip code, insurance provider, and a range of keywords. You can limit your search, for example, to only show women-identifying clinicians and also filter by focus areas such as women's issues, racial identity, or *intellectual disability. With that said, while Psychology Today is not a diversity-centered directory by design, it might be your best bet if you live in a small city or a predominantly white and/or LGBTQ+ hostile community because most working therapists are listed on it. Anecdotally speaking, if you are looking for a therapist of color or one who specializes in specific cultural issues, Psychology Today is easier to navigate than if you're using it to search for queer-friendly clinicians. LGBTQ+ babes perusing Psychology Today should proceed with caution and be aware that search categories can be a little clunky. For example, "Transgender" is inexplicably filed under the "Issues" instead of its own gender identity category. There also isn't a filter option to search for clinicians who provide competent care for non-binary or gender non-conforming people. All therapists on Psychology Today have bios which indicate any additional areas of specialty they have that might not be included as a search keyword, such as bicultural issues, poly relationships, intergenerational trauma, to name a few that I've seen.I also encourage therapist-seekers to be superficial and use therapist's profile photos to guide their search. I am unaware of any incidences of catfishing on Psychology Today, but I know quite a few people who chose their therapist based on the good vibes they got from their therapist's profile photo.
*Confusingly, this is the only type of disability that you can filter search by. Nothing for physical, cognitive, or communicative disability.
That's all I've got for you. Good luck!
J O R D A N
I instantly had a flashback to when I was seeing a therapist at 15 in order to deal with being bullied and a bunch of other shit. She was an older white woman, maybe in her late 50s/early 60s, smelled of Marlboro lights, and wore black thigh-high boots over ripped fishnet tights.
Put me off for 10 years.
But the search for a therapist in Whitelandia has led to a dilemma.
This city is 7% black, and I have no idea about the gender split. But that isn't very comforting that I'll feel seen. When I think about going to see a therapist, I think, "Well, what if she's cool as fuck and I want to be her friend? Will she get why I feel bad about only sleeping with white men over the past six months?" You're not going to catch me going to a hypnotist-naturopath- medium.
I'm looking for the Jennifer Melfi to my Tony Soprano.
How do I help myself in a city where I struggle to see myself throughout the day?
How are you coping with finding a therapist?