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  • LaShonda Sims Duncan

The Power of Representation: Why Being a Black Therapist Matters

Today, as I ended my therapy session with a conversation about hair products, protective styles, and the joy of finding the perfect shade of nude that compliments brown skin, I had a moment of reflection. In this moment, noticing my calendar was full of beautiful souls in black-bodies, I am reminded of how much being a black therapist matters and the significance of having black therapists in the mental health profession. So, let's unpack why being a black therapist matters, not just for me, but for the entire black community.


First and foremost, REPRESENTATION MATTERS. 

When you're seeking therapy, it's crucial to see someone who understands your unique cultural experiences and having them look like you is a major bonus. As a black-body, navigating the complexities of life within a predominantly white-body society can be challenging. Having a therapist who shares your racial or cultural background can foster a deeper sense of understanding and empathy. It's about more than just having someone who looks like you; it's about finding a kindred spirit who gets where you're coming from without having to explain every single small detail.


Furthermore, CHOICE MATTERS. 

Every individual deserves the autonomy to choose a therapist who resonates with them on a personal level. For Black folks, this means having the option to work with someone who understands the nuances of our lived experiences. Whether it's discussing the impact of systemic racism, grappling with intergenerational trauma, or navigating microaggressions in everyday life, having a therapist who can relate on a cultural level can make all the difference. Not to say that you have had the same life, let’s just say that some things are just understood, and don’t have to be explained.


FEELING SAFE AND SEEN IS NON-NEGOTIABLE when it comes to therapy. As black-bodies, we often carry the weight of racial trauma and societal expectations on our shoulders. In therapy, we need a safe space where we can unpack these emotions without fear of judgment or misunderstanding. Having a black therapist can create a sense of safety and validation that's unparalleled. It's about being in a room where you don't have to explain or justify your feelings because your therapist inherently understands.


Moreover, being a black therapist allows me to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health in our community. Historically, mental illness has been taboo in many Black households, often brushed aside or dismissed as a sign of weakness or wavering faith. By stepping into this role, I'm not only breaking down barriers but also paving the way for future generations to prioritize their mental health and well-being.


In conclusion, being a black therapist isn't just a job; it's a calling—a calling to uplift and empower my community through the healing power of therapy. It's about creating a safe and sacred space where black folks can unpack their traumas, explore their identities, unlearn harmful thoughts, keep-it-all-the-way-real, and ultimately thrive. So, if you're on the fence about seeking therapy, I encourage you to take a deep breath and take that first step. And if you're searching for a therapist who truly gets you, consider working with someone who shares your background and understands your journey. Take your time in this process, request a consultation, ask questions, truly get a feel for the therapist before committing. Remember, you deserve to be seen, heard, and supported every step of the way.


With love and light always,

LaShonda Sims Duncan, MA.Ed., MFT, LCMHC, LPCC-S, RYT200, SEP

Founder & CEO of Sims Counseling & Consulting in Louisville, Kentucky


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