Therapy: What’s all the big fuss about?

Until I was asked what all the big fuss was about I had not really processed the benefits of therapy. Growing up therapy seemed inaccessible simply because I did not know anyone in therapy, or at least nobody ever brought it up as topic of conversation. Prior to starting therapy I did not understand the need to share my thoughts with a therapist when I could just pray. Coming from a Christian home I was advised to seek answers or understanding from God, so therapy in the first instance seemed like a load of nonsense. 

As a Black woman navigating spaces where I would experience feelings that I could not necessarily put into words, I noticed very quickly that I needed some sort of social interaction regarding how I felt. Praying would relief my anxiety whilst speaking to others would validate my feelings. As I began to read more books I came across a word, this word was ’emotional dumping’ which is defined as “a toxic form of venting. When you emotionally dump you are unaware of both your own emotional state and the state of the listener” (Smith-Grove, 2021). I immediately started to think back to all of the times I spoke with friends and family and how I could have engaged in emotional dumping. 

At this point I knew I had to find a solution and accepted that therapy was the answer. Social interaction decreased my anxiety helping me reflect and practice mindfulness, this is when I finally understood the importance of having and finding a therapist. 

Experiencing indirect and direct racism can have detrimental impact on one’s mental health. As a Black woman that would face microaggressions I found myself not being able to validate my own feelings until speaking with friends, family or a therapist. As I began to have open conversations about the benefits of therapy with individuals from my community, I became intrigued by their experiences and thoughts on therapy. 

Read more to hear insights from individuals within the community on their experiences, thoughts and opinions on therapy:  

Name: Ade
Occupation: Digital Content Manager and Creator
City: Essex

What year did you start therapy? 
“I started therapy this year within the last 3 months. Do you advise others to go? 100%. I think therapy is for everyone as it can really help you realise you’re not weird or rather that we’re all weird and that’s fine. Or that you’re not alone and it can also help you make sense of why you think or behave the way you do. It’s something I call a ‘positively triggering’ experience. Yes, there will be some tough conversations and it can be quite hard to pick at old scabs or revisit trauma you didn’t even know you experienced but the end result is really worth it.

However, I will always tell people that therapy is a personal journey and you need to want to go for yourself. I personally put it off for several years until I decided enough was enough and I noticed patterns in my behaviour that was affecting not just myself but also others around me.”

Were you worried or unsure about sharing with friends and family that you were attending therapy? 
“I felt no way about telling my friends. I knew a couple of them had either had therapy at the start or were even currently in therapy and within my friendship groups, we talk openly about the need for a healthy state of mind. My sister is fairly close to me, she works with people with mental health issues and has personal experience with therapy herself so I knew she’d be very supportive. I haven’t told my parents though and I feel that’s because I don’t want them to feel there is something wrong with me or for them to be unnecessarily worried.

Also, part of my therapy journey has revealed that I had some internalised childhood trauma from my upbringing and things that happened in the past which I feel might hit them the wrong way. I don’t really chat to my parents on that kind of level and they also aren’t based in the UK so telling them about it wasn’t a priority of mine. Although answering this has made me consider mentioning it to them soon.”

Name: Aziza Makamé
Occupation: Marketing Executive
City: London

Were you worried or unsure about sharing with friends and family that you were attending therapy? 
“I share it with my friends but not my Mum and Dad, my sisters know. Mum and Dad. My parents are quite religious, it’s the same reason I can’t tell my mum why I asked for my birth time to work out my astrological placings haha, they believe firmly that through God only are we able to reach mindful peace is through God, which I think is not necessarily wrong, but I think you need a multitude of things, therapy, God, Astrology whatever it is mixing it up is so much better than just one option. Can’t put all the eggs in one basket.”

Have you ever had a negative response? 
“Probably from my parents if I told them!”

Do you feel like therapy has become a buzzword or trend within the community that will slowly die out?

“I think right now it’s spoken about a lot, I think it’ll die down conversation wise but a lot of people are finding it helpful, working on themselves having healthy relationships and I think the word of mouth e.g “You’re so chilled, and handle situations so well” – “Yeah I go to Therapy” will open dialogues for more people to go.”

Name: Tony
Occupation: Radio Producer and Presenter
City: London

Do you feel like therapy is discussed enough in our community? 

“I think it is being discussed but I’m not sure that the conversations are always representative of the reality that many people face in therapy.  don’t the conversations around therapy explore all sides of it; financial implications, finding the right therapist, dealing with stigmas or family judgement, etc. I think there are more inclusive and holistic ways to discuss therapy while still being honest about the positives and negatives.

See Also

Were you worried or unsure about sharing with friends and family that you were attending therapy? 

“I wasn’t worried as such, I felt like it was a personal journey which was already difficult in itself, I told my parents when I had made significant progress within myself. I didn’t want to tell them at first as I thought they’d become worried and concerned about my mental well-being.”

Name: Shana Marie
Occupation: Junior Graphic Designer
City: London

What has been your experience with therapy and have you noticed the recent spike in conversation on this topic?

“Thankfully, I haven’t had a negative response when telling others about therapy. It has been the complete opposite, as people have seen such a positive change to me that they enquire about how I went about finding a therapist. I feel like therapy has become a trend and I am not mad about it. 2020 was an extremely hard year and it gave a lot of people the opportunity for self-reflection, which is why I believe a lot of people attended therapy during the pandemic.

I could do without the constant ‘my therapist said’ tweets circling around the TL (I too i’m guilty of this) I feel like therapy needs to be discussed more in our community to help remove the stigma. Everyone should have therapy whether they believe they need it or not. Our parents for example, they are the ones passing down generational trauma but believe in their hearts of hearts they are fine. I am in therapy because my parents didn’t go..”

Are you thinking about therapy? Visit The Black, African and Asian Therapy Network to learn more.

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