By JOANNE EDOUARD | Apr 30, 2021
Why therapy? What is the purpose of therapy? Does therapy work? Those are some of the questions that I’ve been asked throughout my career, and honestly those are the same questions that I’ve asked myself prior to becoming a therapist. To be frank these are the same questions that I asked myself as a person who has gone to therapy. It can feel strange and daunting to speak to a stranger about your problems. Especially when you are a person of color. In some circles going to therapy is still taboo. My goal is to share my experience as a therapist, but also as someone who has attended therapy. I hope by sharing my experience I can shed light on therapy and how it can benefit everyone.
My experience with therapy actually started in 2008. I was 19 years old, and it was one of the first times that I could remember that something felt off. I could recall being tearful most of the time, and I was isolating myself from my friends. I was also barely sleeping. I remember telling my mother about how I was feeling, and she told me all I needed to do is pray , and God would heal me. So I started praying and praying, and nothing was happening. I started to think God didn’t care about how I was feeling because I still felt off. I told myself I needed to talk to someone because this feeling was agonizing. I knew I couldn’t talk to my parents because you know immigrant parents. I did not want to burden my friends, because I was always the “strong friend”. As days and weeks went by the feelings persisted and I could barely get out of bed. I remember one of my classmates talking about the counseling center on campus, so I decided that I needed to go. So I made an appointment, and I did not tell anyone. To this day, no one knew that I went, until now. I remember sitting in the waiting room and thinking what was I doing here, black people don’t go to therapy. When the therapist walked out and called my name, I was face to face with this older white man. The first thing that popped into my head was “oh boy”. Once we got into the room, and he asked me what brought me to therapy, it was like I finally had permission to let my guard down. Here I was spilling my guts out to this white man. I was allotted five more sessions after my first session, and I went to every session. I would anticipate every session and cherished the time that I had to feel free and share my feelings. As I look back on that experience it wasn’t like the therapist was the best therapist in the world. However, he gave me the space and opportunity to express my feelings and emotions in a meaningful way that I was forever grateful for.
Although I had a good experience with therapy in 2008, I did not attend therapy again until 2018. You’re probably like sis a ten year hiatus, it must not have been that great of an experience. Even though I had gone to therapy I was still ashamed about it, and I had not discussed this with anyone. I told myself I am a strong black woman, and I did not need to go talk to anyone again. I also did not want another white therapist. I wanted to go to someone who looked like me and who would understand some of the things that I was going through . Everytime I would start looking for a therapist, I would get discouraged because I could not find what I was looking for. During that time, I was struggling mentally, but I was telling myself that I was ok. I came across Therapy for Black Girls which was a life saver. I was able to connect with an amazing therapist of color.
Prior to my search in finding a therapist of color I realized that I wanted to be that person for others. So I decided to change my career and went into counseling. My longing to find a therapist led me into this career. I first went to school to become a school counselor. I wanted to help brown and black youth realize their full potential and see a counselor that looked like them. If I was going to be their first encounter with a counselor, I wanted to make it impactful. After a year of being a school counselor, I realized I could do more to help and foster a better experience for these students. I decided to go back to school to obtain a Mental Health Counseling degree. The more I learned the more I realized my community needed me. It was an awakening. Once I started on this journey it was evident that this was not just a career, but a life calling and my purpose.
I want to help people unlock emotional and mental freedom. By providing therapy and providing psychological resources. My goal is to make the therapy experience pleasant. I want to give people the space to discuss their feelings, emotions, or space to just be. I want to be that person for others that I desperately needed for myself.