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Counseling for African-American Women

In addition to the challenges affecting people of color and those affecting women, Black women often report being affected by racism, sexism, and colorism, in unique ways related to the intersection of their race and gender identities.  In light of these challenges, Black women may describe themselves as resilient and determined. At the community level, resilience may look like a celebration of success, strengths, and #BlackGirlMagic. The societal challenges and the idea of the “Strong Black Woman” may contribute to depression, anxiety, and relationship difficulties; counseling for Black women can address those issues as well as:

  • Marginalization and Discrimination: systematic or intentional mistreatment based on their identity as Black women
  • Racial stress, Racial battle fatigue, and Microaggressions: psychological and physiological responses to navigating spaces, usually predominantly white, where others’ lack of cultural awareness lead to constant stereotyping, marginalization, or discrimination; ultimately, anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, and even high blood pressure may develop
  • Black Superwoman Syndrome: the myth of the Black Superwoman that can withstand anything, manage everything for everyone, and not need time to care for herself
  • Familial Attitudes toward Mental Health and Emotions: the idea that what happens in the family isn’t shared with the outside; the tendency to not discuss the history of mental illness or trauma through the generations, and the idea that emotions are a sign of weakness or something to ignore or get over
  • Stigma of Mental Illness in the Community: the fear of being labeled with an illness or the idea that any problem can be handled without help from a stranger.
  • Traditional religious attitudes toward mental health: the idea that all things can or should be resolved through prayer (and that if you still struggle, you aren’t being “faithful” enough)
  • Overachievement: the idea that to overcome stereotypes and succeed, one must be twice as good as white or male counterparts
  • Body Image and Self-esteem: related to the hypersexualization of the Black woman body, dominant cultural standards of beauty within and outside the Black community, and media representations of Black women

If you find yourself thinking “well, what about…” or “I never faced that,” we get it. At Lifeologie, we recognize that this list is neither exhaustive of challenges facing Black women nor a representation of what all Black women may say they experience (though we are happy to add to the list if you have suggestions). While any of our counselors will both consider your individual experience and work to understand societal factors affecting you, we also are proud to have therapists on staff for clients who prefer to work with someone from a similar background.

 

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