After the death of her grandmother, Stacy Jordan considered therapy. Then, when her partner died in 2012, Jordan became convinced she needed to find someone to talk to. Her preference and her hope was to gel with a counselor who was also a Black woman. But the road to the right fit wasn’t easy. It took three years, moves to two major cities, and a few false starts.
It also meant that Jordan had to coach herself into being comfortable with the inevitability of knowing someone else who was sitting in that waiting room, even in a big city like Atlanta. So she planned ahead. When she finally found a therapist she liked, a random social media search gave her pause.
“My requirement is several degrees of separation between the therapist and people I know well.”
“I would see [a potential therapist] on vacation with someone that I know personally, and eh... ” she says. “My requirement is several degrees of separation between the therapist and their personal relationships [with people I know well].”
Jordan’s experience mimics those of many other women told they should engage in more self-care, yet they experience discomfort when learning that their medical provider also sees several of their friends, or their enemies. For many, going to therapy is hard enough without also running into the pastor’s wife, your niece’s best friend, or your boss’ girlfriend in the waiting room.
That said, despite the many White options out there, many (but not all) women of color prefer to engage a therapist of their race or ethnicity, according to the National Institutes of Health. A recent study shows the benefits of this self selection include overall comfortability, cultural competence, and the likelihood of remaining in treatment versus being in cross-racial therapy work.
Six degrees (or less) of separation
In the quest to secure a therapist of color, women are discovering barriers beyond costs and access that manipulate the true self-care they are seeking…