Negative perceptions of psychotherapy harmful to African-Americans



For years I think there has been a gross misunderstanding regarding psychotherapy as it relates to many people of color. Many people of color have a perception that if they seek psychotherapy, their peers would consider them unstable, and they would be seen as being mentally weak to resort to this type of medical treatment.

I don’t condemn psychotherapy for people of color who are engaged with everyday pressures and struggles. But this false notion about psychotherapy has manifested a strong sense of ignorance among many people of color.

Because of such ignorance, many of these individuals have gone over the edge to a point of no return to a normal and productive state of mind. Maybe if these far-gone individuals had sought psychological treatment, their lives may have transformed in a positive manner, allowing them to cope or be in a better position to handle life’s hardships and struggles that took them over the edge.


OVER THE YEARS, I think people of color who did seek psychological treatment found themselves in better positions to deal with and handle life’s challenges. Imagine what their lives would have been like if they hadn’t acquired psychological treatment. I’m convinced that psychotherapy treatment is safe, healthy and positive, and a productive means in helping people of color acquire a mental grip to deal with and handle many of their severe problems. I consider psychotherapy a wonderful treatment alternative for preventing self-destruction among individuals of color who deal with overwhelming and difficult obstacles.

Clinical psychologist Dr. Monnica Williams wrote in Psychology Today magazine in 2011 about the stigma and negative judgment people of color still harbor toward psychotherapy.

“Many African-Americans with mental disorders are unaware that they have a diagnosable illness at all, and are even less aware that effective psychological treatments exist for their specific problem,” Dr. Williams said. “Because of the taboo surrounding open discussion about mental illness, African-Americans often have little knowledge of mental health problems and their treatments.”

Mental instabilities in communities of color have contributed to suicides, family separations, drug abuse, gambling, prostitution, black-on-black homicides, AIDS, school dropout rates, teenage pregnancies, alcohol abuse, spousal abuse, inadequate parenting and an abandonment of wholesome morality. All of these negative attributes have wreaked havoc upon communities of color throughout the United States. It’s essential for people of color to not continue to allow these gross and negative attributes dictate or affect lives to the detriment of their communities.


THESE TROUBLED individuals must use whatever means necessary to discover how psychotherapy can a play a vital role in addressing the negative ills that are destroying their communities. Maybe psychotherapy is the tool that can be used to transform many people of color into caring for themselves in a positive manner.

It’s truly sad and disturbing that too many people of color are behaving as if they don’t have any knowledge or concerns about society’s rules, moral conduct and standards for motivating themselves to strive to be the best that they can be.

Many of these individuals are living chaotic lives of confusion. I’d like to see highly trained psychologists placed in all elementary, middle and high schools in America, because it’s my belief that they would be capable of transforming the minds of our young and impressionable children before they self-destruct
or wreak destruction on our society.

Let’s not fool ourselves – we know that these young Americans of color are dealing with societal hardships that disconnect them from life’s realties. Their twisted states of mind have distorted and blurred their perceptions between good and evil.

It’s time for many people of color to step up and stop denouncing and distorting the facts about psychotherapy. This type of medical treatment must become the new normal for all communities of color in America.


(The writer is a former Richmond County public school teacher with more than 30 years of service. He lives in Augusta.)



Wed, 11/22/2017 - 20:40

Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon