Their conversation provides a comprehensive guide on how to get the most out of therapy and approach it in a healthy way. Because, as Dr. Martin says, “everyone deserves therapy.”
Dr. Martin, a licensed clinical psychologist, professor and researcher, delves into her early experiences in the field, and witnessing the disparities and lack of Black representation in the mental health field. She knew early on that she wanted her work to speak to the Black experience.
“I very much tailored my experience to be like, I’m working with Black people, I’m doing community mental health,” she says.
Dr. Martin emphasizes the importance of being aware, as a mental health professional, of the historical and cultural context of the Black experience—like stereotypes, colorism, texturism—whether or not they are a Black mental health professional.
“I actually don’t feel like you need to be a Black person to work well with Black people,” she notes. “We very much have to read the room. I think not knowing and not being educated about the Black experience, or even any experience, is a privilege and it’s a privilege not afforded to us because we very much have to mask and code-switch and all that.”
Seales speaks to her own journey with therapy and navigating its ups and downs. “Your therapist is not there to answer the questions for you. Your therapist is there to help you find a path to answering those questions yourself that you can also refer back to without your therapist.”
How can Black people feel comfortable in the therapy space? Now that it’s far less taboo to be in therapy, how can we have a healthy relationship with it?
Finding the right therapist and knowing how to navigate each session can seem daunting at first. Before you commit, go in for a consultation session, Dr. Martin says. This is your time to ask questions and check their vibe.
“You need to interview them,” she says. “Ask questions. What’s your opinion regarding the implications of racism on mental health? Do you have difficulty discussing oppression? Have you ever worked with someone that looked like me before?”
For an in-depth guide to vetting a new therapist, check out Dr. Martin’s Questions to Ask Your Therapist.
Once you’ve locked in the right therapist, it’s important to set goals for yourself. As Dr. Martin says, therapy and goals go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly. Also, it’s okay to take a break every once in a while!
“Therapy is work, and we need time to see if it actually is working, to apply the skills. It can also be exhausting,” Dr. Martin says. “You need time to process, you need time to apply it… Just like everything has its peaks and pits, therapy has that too.”
Listen to the full conversation with Dr. Raquel Martin here.
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