For many in the BIPOC community, finding the right fit with a therapist can be a difficult and arduous endeavor. There are a myriad of experiences that racialized people face and endure that may be unbeknownst to a therapist outside of their community. So often, many BIPOC-identified people struggle with being seen, heard and validated in society, so it is essential that when they do seek mental health services, that they are paired with a therapist who can support them in a safe-space where their lived racialized experiences are taken into account during treatment.
Here are two questions to assist in your search for a therapist:
1) Do you operate within an Anti-Oppressive framework?
By asking a therapist if they have received additional training in an anti-oppressive framework is important in serving some of the needs for BIPOC-identified clients that differ from other populations served. A therapist who incorporates an anti-oppressive framework is educated on the racial and oppressive inequities that can pre-dispose a client to experiencing mental health difficulties.
2) What professional development have you done to work with the BIPOC community?
While it is okay to ask a therapist for their educational and professional experience in general, it is important to obtain a sense of how a therapist works with people from different cultures and/or marginalized people. For many BIPOC-identified clients, it is important that their therapist demonstrate an openness and inclusive approach to working with clients of diversity. Obtaining clarity on how a therapist works with the BIPOC community can directly inform your selection of therapist in this respect. For the BIPOC community, seeking therapy may be difficult in general; however, knowing that your therapist has received further education in working with diverse populations with an anti-oppressive approach may create less of a barrier to seeking and engaging in therapy.
Teisha Gunness, PsyD. is a therapist at the Centre for Interpersonal Relationships (CFIR) in Ottawa. Ms. Gunness provides psychological services to individuals and couples using an integrative approach by using therapeutic techniques comprising of Adlerian Psychology, Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Attachment informed therapies, Multicultural Therapy, Feminist Therapy and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples. She has received additional training in Anti-Oppressive Psychotherapy™, Emotionally Focused Individual Therapy (EFIT Level 1 and 2), Relational Life Therapy (RLT Level 1) and is an EMDR certified practitioner. Please note that she is not currently accepting referrals for EMDR therapy