When Your Therapist Looks Like You

After Omari and his friends encounter vampires and the supernatural, how do they process this experience? Therapist, Dr. Flora Gamboa, is introduced in Full Moon Mix Tape, the second in my Tales of Urban Horror series. She plays a pivotal role in the story.

Flora was created to demonstrate the effectiveness of therapy as a way of arriving at solutions.

I also wanted the therapist to be a person of color, (in this case Mexican,) to showcase how important representation is in the field of mental health.

According to the (Mental Health Foundation, 2019) people from black and minority ethnic groups living in the UK are:

  • More likely to be diagnosed with mental health problems
  • More likely to experience a poor outcome from treatment 
  • More likely to disengage from mainstream mental health services, leading to social exclusion and a deterioration in their mental health.

This is due to the fact that ‘mainstream mental health services often fail to understand or provide services that are acceptable and accessible to non-white British communities and meet their particular cultural and other needs’ (Mental Health Foundation, 2019). Ethnic and cultural background is an important context to each and every therapy session, and a therapist’s reaction to the patient can be tainted by subconscious prejudice, stereotypes, and feelings of guilt which can and does have an effect on the quality and effectiveness of the treatment provided. Colin Lago (2005, pp. 20) on the topic states that: Interestingly, it is not only the therapist that harbours internalised preconceived notions and stereotypes, but the patient also can too.

 For example, the patient being a person of color knowing that their therapist is not, can go into the session with reservations already knowing that there are some things the therapist would not be able to relate to or understand. Similarly, the therapist can feel that there are some topics such as racial discrimination that they wouldn’t be able to relate to nor understand, this means that the session cannot possibly yield maximum results for both parties.

Source https://shadesofnoir.org.uk/the-importance-of-therapists-of-colour/

Fortunately, many white therapists are also aware of this and are taking steps to be more responsive to patients of color. Check out the article.

10 Ways White Therapists Can Address Racism in Therapy with Black Clients

https://blog.zencare.co/how-white-therapists-address-racism-black-clients/

That said, nothing matches the effectiveness of working with a therapist who reflects and understands your experiences and challenges before you say a word.

If you are looking for a therapist, a great place to start is Therapist of Color

http://www.therapistsofcolor.org/

AJ Harper is the author of the Tales of Urban Horror series. Sign up for his newsletter

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