No matter how tentative, taking that first step towards working with a therapist is an act of bravery, and even more so for members of some cultures that, in general, have a hard time seeking therapy. Admitting you’d like to (or need to) seek a counseling relationship may feel like a scary step to take, but if you’re here, you’ve already taken the first one. You can’t take action on something you aren’t aware of, so no matter how you feel about being here- we are so glad you are.
When you feel unprepared, under-prepared, or have been made to feel like the way you’re living life is wrong, that bravery in admitting you need some help from a professional can be an act of rebellion and self-care in one. For some cultures, that’s exactly what the idea of going to counseling feels like, in addition to feeling helpless in accessing the resources to do so.
In today’s blog, we will explore some of the unique reasons that therapy remains a taboo word in many cultures, and how we can avoid perpetuating the stigmas that make mental health feel like a problem instead of a part of us all.
There is deep shame associated with seeking help with mental health struggles in many Latin American communities. While much of the stigma can be traced back to religious beliefs (you should be able to trust in God to handle your problems), other factors such as the availability of spanish-speaking providers, the idea that needing help for you mental health brings your family shame, and the expectation that you should be able to rely solely on the support offered within the family or religious unit may perpetuate the guilt or fear you feel about seeking therapeutic help.
Despite the reportedly high instances of mental health struggles for Black communities in America, racism is a serious barrier in safely accessing mental healthcare. The systemic omnipresence of racism that forces Black people to be ever-aware of their safety and minding their behavior creates a barrier to authentically opening up in treatment spaces when they are unaccustomed to knowing how to let down their guard after a lifetime of being made to feel unsafe for merely existing in their skin. This, in addition to pressure from others in the community to appear as though they have everything together, keeps many individuals from seeking out the support they may need.
Much of the reluctance to seek mental health support in Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities is rooted in a deep sense of obligation and an even deeper need for privacy within the family unit. AAPI patients are the least likely group to seek mental health treatment. The perpetuated concepts of forever being a foreigner—even when you are born here in America—alongside expectations, trauma, and internalized stigma make access to therapy feel like a struggle you’re hard-pressed to overcome.
Lack of diversity
Overcoming the misunderstanding of a counselor who isn’t familiar with your culture may sound easy enough in theory. In practice, a lack of diversity in the field itself can make accessing a therapist who may have shared your experiences or at least encountered them in a manner that allows them to understand you more challenging to find. While we cannot represent every culture in our practice, we strive to remain on top of educating ourselves across a myriad of cultural concerns and ideas to limit the isolation you may feel in seeing a provider outside your lived experience.
In some spaces, religion and psychotherapy can be portrayed as directly inverse, but they don’t have to be. When religion, or rather, members of any particular religion, stigmatize the mental health community, your therapist can break down that barrier by welcoming religion into your therapy. If you feel shame, have questions, or are questioning, we can work through that. If you want religion to be a central theme in the way we approach the science of your mind and emotions, we can work through that too.
While our clinicians may hold religious beliefs of their own, the therapeutic space you enter will be free of any spiritual judgment or a lecture in religiosity. Conversely, if you would like your therapy to be biblically driven or include prayer, we can connect you with one of our therapists who is able to be sensitive to those needs.
Finding What You Need At Pure Health Center
Sometimes it’s a lack of exposure or accessibility that has estranged a group from mental healthcare. In others, it’s a communal expectation of privacy or desire to appear independent or steadfast. No matter your culture, religion, or barrier, you are welcome here. If there are things you want to process or questions you want to ask, we want to explore the answers with you.