by Saaudiah Muhammad
Psychotherapy, better known as talk therapy, is a form of assistance from a trained professional that involves helping clients with a variety of mental health issues, emotional distress or issues that look to promote better functioning. There are several kinds of mental health professionals who may offer therapy.
Therapists may choose various modalities or techniques (evidence-based treatment, meaning one or more forms of treatment that have been scientifically evaluated and tested, and demonstrate consistent improvement for a majority of patients as a basis for therapy with clients). These techniques may govern how the clinician may address the issues and concerns of the client.
Some clinicians may stick solely to one type of modality, however, many like myself may utilize multiple modalities and techniques depending on our client’s needs. Therapy not only involves talking to clients in sessions (for the sake of this article, the term client will be used as opposed to patient) but usually involves some “work” outside of the therapy session.
The length of time for therapy varies. Therapy is a safe space where clients can express themselves without judgment and a place where information shared is confidential. Confidentiality can be breached only with very specific exceptions.
Choosing a therapist is very important. As a therapist who is a Muslim, many clients select me because I am a Muslim, and often because I am Black and a woman. Though you won’t know until you begin therapy, it is a good tip to look for a clinician that you think will be a good “fit” for you; this can help in making the therapeutic process less intimidating. Let’s discuss a bit about therapy hesitancy.
Negative stigma and therapy
You can’t heal that which you refuse to confront. There has historically been a negative stigma attached to therapy and mental illness in general, especially in the Black community. We know that in our many experiences, especially here in America, we have faced trauma and a host of other internal and external issues generation after generation.
Sometimes we have thoughts that we cannot make sense of, and we need to express those thoughts and feelings with someone like a therapist. There’s still an overarching misbelief in some, that those who participate in therapy are “crazy” or weak in some way. Thankfully, more and more people are engaging in therapy.
I believed this at one point years ago, until I started studying more about therapy and realized that I needed the opportunity to share my thoughts without feeling judged. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders V (DSM V) is the tool used by doctors and clinicians to diagnose symptoms experienced by clients.
From a faith tradition, mental health or therapy hasn’t been an openly discussed topic. Often when we can’t identify what we are seeing or experiencing, then “crazy” or some other colorful euphemism is used, and prayer is often a means to rid the issue away.
Faith without works is dead
Prayer goes a long way, but the road to success in anything does not stop at prayer. Prayer is the beginning of tackling any issues. That’s the easy part; the hard part is the work that is needed to address the problem to reach your goal.
Therapy is not a quick fix, and your therapist will not “cure” you. If there is any “curing” going on, it is all within YOU and the work that the client is putting into their healing. Change essentially comes in small and measurable steps.
My job as a therapist is to listen to my clients and help the client onto a path that promotes healing. Most of my clients are not taking medication and are opting for psychotherapy (talk therapy), solely. There are some clients who need medication in addition to talk therapy to help in their adjustment.
Please note, this article is an overview of my perspective as a therapist regarding therapy. This is not meant to address anyone’s specific mental health situation. If you are facing an issue in your life that is causing you emotional distress, consider seeking therapy and speaking to a mental health professional. Therapy can be a scary process but with the right therapist, it can help you increase well-being and healing.
Saaudiah Muhammad is passionate about helping those in need and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health, especially in the Black community. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who works as a psychotherapist, she sees clients who are struggling with anxiety, depression, adjustment disorder and various kinds of trauma. Her goal is to help her clients face their issues, offer coping strategies, and help them know they are not alone in their journey. For more information, contact themuslimt[email protected] or visit The Muslim Therapist at https://site-1601078-112-119.mystrikingly.com/