A Black Therapist in 2020
By Stephanie Barbee | Nov 8, 2020
It’s OCTOBER! It seems bizarre that for almost 7 months we’ve been at home….that’s like almost as long as I was pregnant! At home….with kids….and limited social outlets! It’s a wonder ANY of us are still sane. And then there are therapists. Wonderful helping healers, who dedicate time and energy to others, willingly.
Even in a pandemic, clinicians, therapists, psychologists, all the helping disciplines hold space for others while trying to figure out how to hold space for themselves. And let me be the first to say IT AIN’T EASY!
We go to school for years, we learn about theories for how to handle various life stresses and mental health conditions. We learn to ask the questions and use our higher level thinking skills to ‘connect the dots’. Do you want to know what was not taught? How to take care of ourselves and our clients in the midst of a global pandemic and racial trauma that includes continuously being inundated with images of Black men and women being murdered by law enforcement. We were not taught that many of the institutions we learn from are culpable in continuing the systems of oppression that threaten our very existence.
We were not taught commonly used ways to empower our clients natural, culturally relevant ways of healing. We are not often recommending how to encourage the use of nature to help us find some balance, how to use water as a cleansing agent, or how to use movement as a means of moving the trauma through our bodies unless we use this in our own lives.
Many of us are too exhausted to do any of this, even if we were taught it. Many of us are trying to manage our own anxiety around the state of the world. Many of us are literally using all of our energy to ‘show up’ for others. Many of us are only surviving because it’s in our DNA. But this is not a glorious existence. As a matter of fact, it is an exhausting existence. We are moving through the motions.
What therapists, especially Black therapists, need right now is rest. We need boundaries. We need grace, from our clients and from other professionals. We need love. We need uplifting. We need prayers. We need positive energy. We need divine intervention. We need all of the things that are aligned with healing because the healers are hurting. We need to be able to prioritize ourselves. We need to be HUMAN before we are professionals. We need to have space held for us.
Most of us will overcome. Most of us will find the strength of our ancestors flowing through our veins to empower us. Most of us will come out on the other side, the question is what condition will we be in when that happens? Healers are needed and we willingly show up daily to do the work. If you have a therapist in your life, personally or professionally, consider these things in interactions. Consider showing them a little extra love, compassion, and grace. Most of us value our professionalism and will not tell, but know, we are tired. We are resilient, but we are tired. We not going anywhere…..but we are tired.
A Black Therapist in 2020