Why People Choose Online Therapy

When I think about why clients choose online therapy, the first answer that comes to my mind is about convenience: the comfort of being in your own office or home, no travel necessary, the time saved, and the time of sessions is usually more flexible.  I admit I was skeptical about doing online therapy but when I decided to begin my practice and I read about it, I realized that it is something I wanted to do in addition to seeing clients in a traditional office setting.  I have been providing online video therapy for awhile now and I do enjoy doing it and actually prefer it to working in a traditional office setting.

When I’ve asked clients how they feel about seeing me via video rather than in an office, they’ve stated that they feel comfortable working this way and it’s more convenient for them since they do not have to go to an office.  During a recent snow storm I was able to see 7 clients online, I would not have been able to do this in an office because it would have been very difficult for me or my clients to get to the office.

Another reason some people chose online therapy is that it gives an added layer of confidentiality.  With online therapy, no one else has to know that you’re going to therapy unless you chose to tell them.  I don’t feel as comfortable doing telephone therapy as I prefer to see my clients when we’re speaking however telephone counseling is also an option.

Some clients would not benefit from online therapy and do need to be seen in an office.  Clients who are schizophrenic and actively psychotic would not be good candidates for online therapy.  Also clients who have recent suicidal attempts would benefit from  in office therapy until they are more stable.

I have found the outcomes for my clients to be just as good whether I see them online or in my office and I’m so glad I made the leap and offer online therapy.

African American Women and Mental Health

There’s often a fear of putting our business in the street . . . of somehow revealing too much. Black women often perceive going to a therapist as something we don’t do.

African American women have the highest mortality rate for heart disease and stroke and the highest prevalence of high blood pressure and obesity. Recent research indicates that mental health plays a role in these health disparities. While many black women know and discuss the threats to their physical health, when it comes to mental health, there’s often silence and inaction.
Many black women are struggling with mental health issues but are not seeking professional help. Improving black women’s access to mental health treatment as a crucial element to addressing the serious, but often manageable, illnesses plaguing their physical health.

Women Who Need Care Go Without
Despite the emotional and physical consequences of mental-health problems, black women are less likely to seek treatment. The percentage of African Americans overall who receive needed mental-health care is only half that of whites, according to a Surgeon General report on mental health. By some estimates, only 7 percent of black women suffering from depression receive any treatment, compared with 20 percent of the general population.
The California Black Women’s Health Project, released the results of a study of more than 1,300 African American women across the state. The subjects in the study revealed that they tended to repress feelings, let frustration build and release tension through tears or conflict. The findings of the study, which included a series of focus group discussions across the state, led to a launch of a mental health initiative to improve African American women’s acceptance of and access to mental health treatment.

It’s important for African American women to realize that self care is not selfish and you must take care of you so you can take care of others. It is also important to recognize something is wrong and you deserve to feel well.

Many Black women have a distrust and place a stigma that black women on mental-health treatment, in part from their difficulty in finding a therapist to whom they can readily relate. African Americans comprise less than 6 percent of mental-health care providers nationally. Overcoming this shortage may be crucial to improving treatment outcomes for African American women. In my work in the mental health field, I have found from interviews with clients that mental-health practitioners “don’t get it when they are working with people who don’t look like them.”

African American women also struggle against the stigma associated with mental-health treatment.
One study found that the proportion of African Americans who feared mental-health treatment was more than twice that of whites, according to the surgeon general’s report. Part of the fear stems from wariness of the medical establishment that arises from past abuses, such as the Tuskegee experiment. (In 1932, the federal government sponsored a study to examine the impact of untreated syphilis involving black men. The experiment went on until 1972 without the test subjects’ knowledge and most of the subjects died without receiving treatment.) As a result of the distrust engendered by the now-infamous experiment and the stigma associated with seeking help, many black women rely on spiritual leaders and community members to handle personal problems. There’s also an added pressure from the ethic of the strong black woman, a cultural value that promotes toughness and self-sacrifice. They often think ‘My mother suffered. My grandmother suffered. It’s just the lot of black women in America. It doesn’t have to be that way.
There’s a deep-seated feeling that going to seek professional help is a sign of weakness. These ideas and feelings must change in order for all women to function at their best ability.

Transforming Lives: How One Woman Is Making Culturally Sensitive Therapy Accessible To Black Women And Children

This is the excerpt for your very first post.

I have been a therapist in New York City for a long time. In all my years of providing services, the one thing I have noticed is a severe lack of culturally sensitive treatment in psychotherapy. Less than 10% of therapists in the United States are people of color (Black, Latino, Asian or Native American) yet in some communities the majority of clients are people of color, in particular, Black women and children. While I think most therapists try to care for and about their clients regardless of race, I do think there is a certain disconnect and bias that often comes when White therapists work with communities of color. It’s not necessarily overt but it’s often seen in the interaction as well as how some therapists describe and talk about their non-white clients.

I received my Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work in 1994 from The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in New York City. Hunter is one of the most selective social work schools in the country and the program is very rigorous and inclusive. However even though the school is located in a diverse city, my graduating class had very few other students who were also Black. In my field placement at Jewish Board in the Bronx, there was only 1 Black social worker and I was the only Black intern. I was hired at the Jewish Board following graduation and remained for a number of years however throughout my time at the agency there were very few therapists of color despite the agency stating that they had an initiative to hire more Black and Latino therapists. Throughout my career at various agencies in New York City and Westchester County in NY, I was often the only Black therapist and was often looked to as being an “expert” on the Black community. Many White therapists would often consciously or unconsciously pathologize the behavior of marginalized communities because they were unable to empathize with or understand the cultural differences. This led me to begin providing cultural diversity workshops throughout New York City and Westchester to help therapists be better able to understand the differences in people’s cultures.

Many therapists would often say they didn’t see color and that we’re all the same, I would explain that we’re not all the same and communities of color are not asking for them to not see our color but to treat us with respect and not pathologize our background because it’s different from their own upbringing.

During all my work in agencies, I always had a dream of having my own private practice where I would provide psychotherapy to families of color in particularly Black women and children. I often had clients in agencies ask me if they could continue working with me outside of the agency setting because they felt that I was always understanding, respectful and kind to them. They also often told me that they felt that I could understand them because as a Black woman even if we grew up in different places I had a deeper understanding of their lives and culture. I wanted to start working for myself however circumstances did not allow me to begin my private practice until earlier this year.

Transforming Lives Counseling Service was born out of my desire to help others and to give back to my community. Many people desire and need mental health care but due to the stigma won’t get treatment or feel that therapists from the White culture won’t understand their lives or how racism affects them on an almost daily basis. It’s so important to feel that your therapist, the person who you will share intimate details of your life with will understand you and not have their view of you colored by racism either overtly or covertly. My practice focuses on the treatment of Women of Color and Families because there is such a need in these communities. Many of my clients come to me because they have had very negative experiences with White therapists and have purposely wanted to work with a Black woman. My areas of expertise are childhood trauma, anxiety, and addiction, these are all issues which are very common in marginalized communities but are rarely talked about in families. I also charge sliding scale fees for my services so that no one will be denied therapy because of their inability to pay. I offer therapy in office as well as on a video platform. The online video platform is an added level of privacy and confidentiality for my clients. I’m so pleased to offer my services to people who may not otherwise have therapy. I truly love being a therapist and helping people to achieve the happiness and peace they deserve in their lives.