Navigating Therapy

Race & Culture Matters: 5 Questions to Ask Your Therapist

Trying to find a therapist that is a good fit for you in your community can be extremely challenging. You might not know where to begin and whether you can even trust the therapists in your community.

Particularly in smaller towns, like the one I am a part of, trying to find therapists whom have similar racial, ethnic, or cultural backgrounds to you can be virtually impossible.

This does not necessarily mean the therapist has to be a person of color. However, race and culture matters when searching for a therapist because therapists can do harm to clients when they do not understand the ways race, culture, and ethnicity impact experiences of trauma, mental illness, and family background.

When looking for a therapist, ask them the following questions to gauge where they are at in their understanding of cultures different from their own:

  1. What is your racial/ethnic and cultural background? How does that impact your work as a therapist?
  2. What is your experience when it comes to working with ________ (ex. specific racial/ethnic backgrounds, immigrant populations, LGBTQ, etc.)
  3. How do you work with clients whom have experienced racism, discrimination, or immigration-related concerns?
  4. What does it mean to you to provide culturally competent care? What training have you had on this topic?
  5. What is your comfort level when it comes to talking about topics such as white privilege, racism, discrimination, or systemic oppression?

While not everyone is looking to find a therapist that look likes or has similar cultural backgrounds as them, these factors can be a make or break for many when it comes to choosing a therapist.

When looking for a therapist, you want to find someone you feel connected to. Rather than having to continually explain yourself, your background, or who you are in therapy, you want to find a therapist who can relate to (or has experience working with) the concerns you are wanting to address.

And if race, ethnicity, and/or culture factor into the concerns you are wanting to address in therapy, my hope for you is that the five questions above, can be a good starting point when it comes to navigating your search for a therapist.