I’ve been a psychotherapist for five years and I can count on one hand how many adult men I have had as a client: two. Yes I have worked with many teenage and school-aged boys, but my office has not seen many fathers or working class men that need someone to talk to.
When I talk to my female-filled caseload, many of them talk about how the men in their life has let them down, hurt them, lied to them or abandoned them. Through their tears, they talk about how their fathers, ex-husbands and boyfriends are in and out of prison, cheated on their mothers, lived a double life, abused them or were never in their lives. The heartache that these men have caused them is a clear indicator that they need their own therapy. But of course, they are not going and that’s a problem.
In the VH1 special, In Session Live With Dr. Jess Featuring Charlamagne tha God, the radio personality sat down and fought through being uncomfortable in order to help normalize black men going to therapy. Though he is open about him going to therapy every Friday, having a live session in front of millions of people as you talk about your anxiety and paranoia as a parent is no easy task.
Charlamagne’s transparency and vulnerability was so pleasing to see as a therapist. With this live session, he helped to not only shut down the stigmas about seeking therapy in the black community, but he modeled what it is like to let your guard down with someone and reframed the negative ideas attached to it.
Charlamagne’s session sent a message to black men that you don’t have to feed into what the social construct of what masculinity is. It’s okay to admit that you’re scared and talking about it doesn’t make you any less of a man. Admitting that you don’t know how to love yourself doesn’t make you weak, it makes you human.
I’m hoping that his session encouraged black men in the world to go address their traumas. Prison, poverty, systemic racism and broken family systems across black America have left many black men traumatized. Instead of addressing it therapy, many men get into relationships and bring emotional baggage that causes them to wreak personal havoc on their own lives as well as the lives of the women they say they love. Many men only know how to give the kind of love they received, which may not be actual love but it’s the only kind they know. Instead of participating in a cycle and perpetuating a generational curse, Charlamagne openly discusses his efforts to change his family history and his fears of making the same mistakes as his father and being, as he put it, a repeat offender. He also spoke openly about not wanting to dump his emotional baggage on his wife because it’s not fair to her. He recognized his responsibility as father to black girls and a husband to a black woman to go seek help so he would not hurt them.
Sitting down with a therapist can be uncomfortable at first, but worth it. Charlamagne tha God is promoting the idea that going to therapy doesn’t mean you have a mental illness, it means you or taking care of your mental health, and we need to thank him for that.
Take a look at some of the clips from his live session below.