More celebrities and public figures express their battles with their mental health, and it humanizes and creates us to connect with them more than ever. It allows us to see that no one is immune to the battles that we face every day when it comes to our mind. But, with so many terms and conversations happening, a lot of things can get lost within translation on what mental illness truly is. This is why we wanted to dive more deeply into what misconceptions we may not know about the mind regarding therapy and behavioral patterns. We had the chance to speak witht Brittany Banks, Future graduate with a B.S. Psychology from Georgia State University. We spoke on what she is learning about the mind, behaviors, and how women of color can find the right therapy options.
What are some common misconceptions that people seem to have about therapy commonly?
Oh, man! Where do I begin?! The main three misconceptions are that therapists analyze everyone they engage with, therapists are there to tell you what to do, and that therapists have every aspect of their lives together.
First and foremost, it would be too exhausting and time-consuming to try and psychoanalyze everyone you encounter. I have yet to encounter any mental health professional that does this! Yes, most therapists are skilled at reading people fairly well, but it does not mean an assessment is being done or judgment is being passed. It takes several sessions, and in some cases, additional educational reading and research before a therapist conclude what type of individual they are engaging with. In casual encounters, therapists are simply trying to determine the vibe, just like most people.
Secondly, contrary to popular belief, therapists should NOT be giving any advice whatsoever; it’s considered unethical. It was a shock to me. Entering grad school, I thought I knew what therapy was about based on my own experiences, along with what I’ve seen on TV and the movies. To my surprise, most of what I constructed in my head was completely wrong! A therapist’s job is to help their client identify and dissect their complicated thoughts, emotions, painful memories, troubling experiences, traumatic situations, etc., from a non-bias and non-judgmental clinical perspective. The goal is to help the client discover their clarity and guide their thought processes of problem-solving and coping with the presenting concerns. A famous saying in the field to clients is, “you are the expert of your own life; I am just here to assist you on your journey.” Therapists are here to help equip people with the tools they need to live healthy, fulfilling, and independent lives. Those in the mental health field who provide advice are considered life coaches and are not always licensed, professionals. However, they have their value in some cases as well.
Last but not least, therapists are people too! This means that they have their problems and opportunities to grow just like everyone else. Some therapists even deal with their psychological struggles. The worst kind of therapist is one who refuses to seek help to sort out their own lives when they truly need it. Humans tend to be blind to their faults sometimes, so that is where those objective and unbiased perspectives can be a real blessing. Therapists have to watch for self-care and their mental health just as much as anyone else. My favorite line to use is “therapists need therapists too.” So thinking someone has it all together just because they have a degree in the field is not valid. They have direct access to resources that can assist in their journeys.
When studying more about different types of behaviors, what do you think of other celebrities such as Kanye claiming his bipolar disorder as a sort of scapegoat?
Well, I don’t know enough about Kanye’s situation to comment. However, if he has been clinically diagnosed with bipolar disorder, some of his bizarre behavior could be explained by his diagnosis pending further assessment. I don’t think anyone should use having a mental illness as an excuse to behave badly or treat people poorly, especially if they were not diagnosed by a professional. That can create false understandings of what symptoms are truly associated with the disorder in question. If someone does have a mental illness and they are cognitively aware enough to recognize and accept the diagnosis; the better option would be to partner with a therapist and psychiatrist to get on a treatment plan that helps the individual manage and cope with symptoms healthily rather than using the disorder as an excuse to behave however they so choose.
Have you learned something about yourself when studying psychology?
Yes actually! Learning about different personality traits, personality types, and even symptomology of various psychological experiences has helped me better understand myself and how my worldview came to be today. As I progress in my education and experience in the field, I find myself even more capable of self-assessing and self-correcting some of my less favorable traits or characteristics. It doesn’t mean I have the answers to all my problems by any means because therapists need therapists, too, lol. But I feel as if my education has positively contributed to my personal growth experiences.
Lastly, any great tips for women of color looking to find a therapist related to their experiences?
My advice to my beautiful black and brown queens would be to take the time and seek the help you need to heal and to grow. I don’t know why it is not as expected of a discussion as it should be. Still, generational trauma, toxic parenting, the concept of being strong all of the time, being placed last in terms of value in society, fighting for equality from both a racial and sex standpoint in all arenas are heavy and dark things to face alone. However, that does not mean we have to remain a victim or continue to struggle. As we heal, learn, and grow, we can prepare the next generation of women to dominate in all that they do and to be at peace mentally and spiritually while doing it. Find a therapist that you genuinely feel comfortable with and trust. All therapists are not created equally, nor do they all use the same style/ approach. Determine what you need for that type of partnership and seek just that. Learn to love yourself unconditionally and give yourself grace because although society makes us feel like we have to be, no one is perfect. It’s easier said than done for many, I know. But the sooner you start, the sooner you can truly shine the way you were meant to.
What are your plans after graduation?
After graduation, I intend to continue working in the field, acquire my LPC license, open my practice, and start a non-profit to provide mental health services to those that cannot afford to pay for them out of pocket. A low SES and lack of insurance should not mean that you receive less care and concern for your overall well being, and I want to do what I can to help correct that problem.
We hope you are continually taking care of your health and recognizing what you can do to better yourself queens. Stay connected with us for more interviews soon.