Dear Therapist, you didn't make me feel welcomed
You didn’t make me feel welcomed. You came highly recommended by a friend, but when I looked on your website all I saw were white faces. Was it just not that important to market to me or do you not want to see faces of color in your practice?
-Sincerely a POC looking for mental health care
You didn’t make me feel welcomed. I scheduled an appointment with you, but despite being listed in Psychology Today as competent in transgender mental health, you never asked my preferred name or pronouns. You misgendered me throughout our session and also assumed the gender of the person I am dating. Does this happen to all of your clients?
-From a Trans person seeking some understanding
You didn’t make me feel welcomed. I told you that I have an eating disorder but you recommended that I follow a restrictive diet plan to improve my mental health. I had to take time in my session to educate you as why this was dangerous advice. Why are you giving nutritional advice anyway?
-Sincerely an ED sufferer fighting diet culture one day at a time
You didn’t make me feel welcomed. You said you only provided Christian counseling to those who request it, but you displayed Christian paraphernalia all over your office. I didn’t feel safe telling you that I am in a polyamorous relationship because it would surely go against your Christian beliefs. Are you okay with non Christians feeling uncomfortable staring at a cross throughout their sessions?
-From a couple who needed help not judgement
You didn’t make me feel welcome. I came to you to be open and honest and work through my childhood trauma. When I told you that I enjoy being dominated in intimate partnerships, you insisted that I need to stop engaging in those behaviors. You forced me to believe that something was wrong with me for enjoying being submissive. You caused me to feel shame about my sexuality which caused further shame regarding my trauma. Do even know anything about what it means to be in the Kink community?
-Sincerely a sub looking to accept her story
Have you ever felt unwelcomed by a therapist because of their lack of understanding or education regarding your particular identity? I have. It’s really hard because you see therapists as experts and want to believe that they know exactly what to say and do to help you feel better. But therapists are human beings, with their own limitations.
You have the right to feel accepted, understood and represented without having to educate your therapist about your identity. Sure, you need to teach your therapist about who you are as an individual but you shouldn’t need to take time out of your session to teach them about what it means to be a POC, Transgender, LGBTQ, Kink, a woman, a racial minority, etc.
Speak up! Ask questions! Before you schedule an appointment, ask to speak to the therapist on the phone to get an idea if you would be a good fit. And if you feel uncomfortable in session because of something the therapists says you have the right to voice your concerns. You are the expert on YOURSELF.
And therapists, we can always do better. Over the years, I have learned so much about making my practice inclusive and yet I have so much more to learn. I stay open to feedback and am always willing to acknowledge when I have offended. Let’s create spaces where ALL people feel they belong.