2017 was an incredible year that showcased the complexities of the experiences of black women and the intersectionality that has to be considered when it comes to our personal and professional needs. It’s no secret that mental health and seeking professional help for conditions like depression and anxiety have often been shamed in the black community, a community where the mindset of only discussing family affairs within the same four walls of the household is commonly held. I know my Grandma was good for warning her children, “You better not be puttin’ my business out in dem’ streets.” Voluntarily seeking outside help in the form of a family therapist or counselor was often unheard of in the black community, until recently.
It seems as if shows like Issa Rae’s “Insecure” and the reboot of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” have given women of color an updated image of what self-care and maintaining mental health looks like, and it isn’t showcased as weak or intrusive. Both shows feature main characters unpacking their issues with therapists and women of color who can personally identify with the specific incidents of micro-aggressions, cultural patterns and unhealthy cycles that are specific to the women of color. The Therapy for Black Girls Therapist Directory is the next step in helping women of color be able to access resources to better maintain their mental and emotional health.
Bustle recently sat down with the creator of the directory, Dr. Joy Harden Bradford who says she created the directory after realizing the need for Black women to “be seen and known” within the world of mental health:
“I created the directory because I continued to see the same conversation around Black women looking for a therapist come up again and again.”
“My experience has been that Black women typically prefer to have other Black women as therapists as there tends to be a level of ‘feeling seen and known’ that exists between Black women.”
The Therapy For Black Girls directory currently lists over 300 therapists in 34 states and Washington, DC. Dr. Joy wants to increase that number to 500 and expand to other countries in the near future. A picture of the therapist is featured along with their website and additional contact information for women seeking therapists according to the area they wish to be seen, making the site easy to navigate and a safe space. You can also choose to schedule an appointment with Dr. Joy herself. Joy is an Atlanta-based licensed psychologist who specializes in relationship (romantic, platonic, and familial) management, self-esteem improvement, college to work transition, and depression. She offers group as well as individual counseling geared towards meeting the needs of Black women.
If you’re not quite ready to connect with a therapist, or the site doesn’t currently list therapists in your area, Dr. Joy hosts a podcast also called “Therapy for Black Girls.” The podcasts aren’t meant to substitute for services offered by a mental health professional, but it does feature topics that pertain to mental health that can be accessed according to an individual’s needs or interests and don’t have to be listened to in order. Topics include, “Parenting Without Shame”, “Do You Believe In Sisterhood?” and “Emotional Eating” among others. Dr. Joy says the podcasts have allowed her to shatter the myths about what therapy looks like for many people who are skeptical about the process:
“The podcasts have allowed me to share more about what the therapeutic process looks like for people who may be curious and has allowed me, along with my guest therapists, to talk about issues that are important for Black women to know about and helpful in improving their mental health.”
With the end of another year approaching, it may be a good time to check out the site if you need resources to help you enter the new year with a fresh point of view in a safe space. Maybe instead of that gym membership or it might help to get healthy from the inside out starting with some peace of mind. Dr. Joy believes that all women can benefit from taking a moment to assess their mental health needs:
“When we look at the world we live in and the significant ways Black women are often mistreated and abused, there is a lot of healing that needs to take place for us to really have full and joyful lives.”