By Kweku Akyirefi Amoasi
Let’s do better in 2024! Let’s be intentional about our actions, behavior, and effort this year, specifically as it relates to our Mental Health. Do you have a therapist? If not, let this be the year we get a counselor. For those of you asking, “why would I get a counselor if I am not crazy?” First, there is no one person on this earth that is exempt from problems and trauma. We all could benefit from a sacred spot to discuss our flaws, past pain and traumas, along with ways to improve on ways in which we are already succeeding and winning. Second, the best time to seek out a counselor is when you are not in acute distress. If you have to find a therapist in a rush or when you are in emotional distress, you may settle for the person with the quickest availability instead of taking time to find the best fit for you. Please understand the wrong counselor can do more damage and spoil your feelings about the entire process of therapy. Finding the right counselor is crucial and may not happen on the first or second attempt. You may need to meet with more than one therapist before you find the right fit for you.
Often initial consultations are free, so prepare a list of questions that are relevant for you to know about the potential counselor. A lot of demographic information about the therapist (e.g., age, gender, religious affiliation, etc.) can be found on their websites or online directories and websites such Psychology Today, Black Clinicians Milwaukee, Mary Ellen Strong Foundation and Boris Lawerence Henson Foundation (website links found at the end of this article). There are five questions you should have prepared to ask: 1) Where did you go to school; what credentials and degrees do you hold; and what areas of specializations do you have to document you are qualified? 2) How long have you been in the profession? 3) What is your pay structure (e.g., which insurance they accept or self-pay) and if they have a sliding scale for fees? 4) What is your theoretical orientation? Which means how will they conduct sessions to guide you through the process. And the last question is not one they can answer with words. Ask yourself, what does your gut instinct tell you about their aura, energy, or vibe?
Multiple research studies assert that the number one reason why therapy works is because of the relationship between the therapist and the person seeking services. And, please know that even therapy alone does not fix every issue. In meta-analyses study reported by Barry Duncan in 2014, he asserted that with the most skilled clinician one could expect up to fourteen percent of the positive change through therapy. This is powerful, but the next step is how to complete the other eighty-six percent.
In the I Ching there is a passage that states “If you are too weak to overcome the obstacles that are obviously bad for you, then indeed your future is bleak.” The premise of this argument is that we already know what vices can pull us down and if we do not have the discipline to conquer, or at least manage, these vices, they will be the reason for our downfall. And what is worst, is that it is a downfall that was predictable and preventable.
I know some people are still not sold on the idea of therapy. I can tell you from personal experience, if you never did therapy, and you find the right therapist, you will find it was the best thing you never knew you needed. Often we have been conditioned to do things alone and suffer in silence. Let us break the stigma of seeking assistance and guidance from a trained professional. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If we are going to do better in 2024, let us try something new that has proven to be effective. The saddest thing I hear is when a person says, “I never did therapy, and look at me I’m okay.” And then you look at them and think, no you are not okay, family. We have to stop confusing surviving and maintaining for thriving and gaining. Therapy is only part of the process, but it’s a definite step in the right direction. Try it before you blindly decline this invite.