Alana, a self-described fat, black femme in her 30’s received some strong messages about therapy as a middle-schooler. She was told that therapy is for white people and black people go to church. However, she was suffering from suicidal thoughts when she was five years old so she was introduced to counseling at a young age. In college, she was an activist who tried her best to create more diversity at the campus counseling center. Later in life, Alana got married. She and her spouse decided to open their relationship. When she then got pregnant she started taking some of the rejection very personally. Her emotional reactions drove her to find a new therapist. She was specifically looking for a therapist that was sex positive, poly competent, anti-racist and body positive.
Jeff, a licensed therapist and the host of Say More About That, talks with Tegan about her experience of searching for a therapist and going to counseling.
On black people going to therapy:
“There were two sort of dual messages that therapy isn’t really for us but also, “you need this!”
On why she found a therapist as an adult:
“As a fat, black woman I was experiencing a lot of rejection in the non-monogamy dating pool. There just weren’t a lot of people that were interested in me. It happened in overt and covert ways. It happened all along. But once I was pregnant, those rejections were deeply felt.”
On what she was specifically looking for in a therapist:
“I created a list in my head of what I needed in a therapist. I wanted someone with experience working with polyamory and who was sex positive. And someone who was not going to be fat shaming. Their answer to me could not be, “well if you lose weight…”. And someone who was specifically anti-racist. They didn’t have to be a person of color, but someone who has an understanding of race and identity.”
On what she’d like her therapist to do more of:
“She’s very affirmative and validating but she doesn’t challenge me a lot. She feels like the world challenges me enough. But I wonder what would happen if I had a therapist that was more challenging.”
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