The Therapy Stigma in The Black Community

How Speaking to Someone Changed My Life

Close to two years ago I was going through some of the toughest moments of my life, all at once. I had three separate situations that were really effecting me and I really didn't know what to do. They were all situations, to some extent, that were out of my control. 

While talking to one's friends can be considered a form of therapy, I felt I needed someone who not only didn't know me but could tell me what I needed to hear without bias. 

In both the Black and Latino communities, therapy is stigmatized. It is often seen as a form of weakness. A place that our idols growing up (rappers and athletes) would never think of visiting. Why? There's a degree of masculinity in our communities that is hard to penetrate because many people consider being in touch with your emotions to be soft, feminine or gay. Toughness is a currency in our communities that many people pay the price to achieve and to which one cannot affix a dollar sign. 

The one thing I learned in therapy whether going through a breakup, issues with a friend or colleague or a family event is that it's about you and no one else. Your love life can be in turmoil. Your friend could have betrayed you. Your mom could have fallen ill. All in all, starting therapy is about why you are there. The rest of therapy is about how you can work on yourself and what you can get out of it.

How can you change to help the situation?

What did you learn from this experience?

What did you learn about yourself?

What do you want to improve upon or change about yourself?

These are all questions that have to do with only you. The focus is less on outsiders and more on you. Why? Because as my therapist once said: "I'm sitting in front of you, therefore, I can only help you find your own path. No one else is here with me except for you."

I've seen men commit crimes due to not having other outlets for their emotions and I have seen men hurt their loved ones. While it may seem that you are inflicting pain on others, the real pain is found within you.

Click here for a list of resources for therapy services across the country. If you have health insurance, your insurer can provide you with a list of cost-friendly options for therapy in your area.

In conclusion, I implore you to be open. I have never been more aware of my actions and my feelings than I am now. I've realized that I am in control and when I am in control of my emotions I am the best version of me I can be.

Peace,

Will Ariza