Research shows 76.4% of therapists are white and 4.1% are black or African American. Clearly, there is a significant disparity in diversity within the mental health profession. An issue that can hinder the therapeutic process for clients of color as they struggle to find clinicians they can relate too. Historically, working with a black therapist online in California was less possible.
Finding a therapist you feel comfortable working with can be a process. Mental health professionals often utilize different treatment modalities, specialties, and come from various educational backgrounds – all of which can feel overwhelming to navigate. Finding a therapist who is a good fit can be even more challenging for those looking to work with a BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) therapist due to the oversaturation of white therapists in the mental health field.
Cultural Limitations Within the Mental Health Field
The Psychology and Psychiatry field has roots in racism as the earliest developments of a wide variety of mental health services and practices were conducted, researched, and theorized mostly by white men. These early clinicians often worked predominantly with white, cisgender, heterosexual, middle class individuals and rarely considered minority cultures and ethnicities within their private practice. Additionally, the black community was often more likely to be pathologized and tested for mental health issues than white patients.
This historical treatment of BIPOC people in mental health has created a sense of skepticism and distrust for BIPOC individuals who may want to start therapy. If a BIPOC person starts therapy with a white therapist, there may be valid concerns of whether the clinician is culturally competent to understand clients of color without pathologizing the behavior, values, and beliefs that have real cultural significance for BIPOC people.
Fortunately, in recent years, there has been more emphasis on the responsibility white therapists have to ensure they are not contributing to systems of oppression, enforcing biases, or providing care that further stigmatizes mental health for people of color. However, although A white therapist might be able to empathize with a client of color, they will never know the true perspective of BIPOC people the way a BIPOC therapists often can. So naturally, for some black people, there is a preference to work with a black therapist as it’s more likely that the therapist will understand their experience on some level.
Why Diverse Therapist Options Matter
It’s not uncommon for people to have certain preferences when it comes to working with a therapist. Someone might prefer to work with a provider who has kids as they want to receive support from someone who understands the nuances and unique challenges they face the way someone who is childless might not be able to relate to. The same goes for patients who want to work with a therapist who understands and has lived experience being a person of color.
White therapists might have the best of intentions, however, they might miss important factors that a BIPOC therapist who shares in a client’s cultural experience would have picked up on, allowing the patient to feel more seen and validated.
A significant aspect of successful therapy is the relationship that is built between therapist and patient. Research highlights that the connection between therapist and patient statistically leads to more successful therapeutic outcomes when compared to factors like theoretical orientation, years of experience, or education level.
It’s important to note that not every BIPOC client will have a preference to work with a licensed BIPOC therapist, but it’s important that they have diverse providers as an option, if that feels more comfortable, for their mental health care.
Working with a Black Therapist Online in California
If you live in the state of California, working with a black therapist online in California (or another therapist from the BIPOC community) has become more possible as you don’t have to search for a provider who lives within reasonable commuting distance. With the boom of teletherapy, the therapist pool has widened significantly for those who wish to work with any therapist licensed in the state of California, making it less challenging to find licensed black therapists in CA. For example, someone who lives in Los Angeles can virtually work with a therapist who lives in Oakland, if they find a therapist there who feels like a good fit.
Therapists and social workers now have the ability to offer individual and couples therapy to residents all over the state. Through telehealth services, clients can receive support around a wide range of mental health, sexual health, and relationship concerns. Many of the same issues people come to in-person therapy for such as trauma, relationship issues, and substance abuse can all be addressed during online therapy sessions.
Modalities of therapy such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), and more, translate well to the virtual therapy experience as well. Whatever your preferred style of therapy, your therapist can create a treatment plan for you and work with you to meet your therapy goals. To work with a black therapist online in California who focuses on treating trauma, sex and relationship concerns, check out my profile and feel free to schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see if there is a good fit.