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How Black Women Can Get The Most Out Of Counselling

Social isolation, job stresses, bereavement and loss are some of the many causes of mental distress. Alongside these factors, black women also face gender and racial discrimination when it comes to seeking help, which can aggravate feelings of a low sense of self-worth and belonging.

Tales of stereotyping, cries for help not being heard by professionals and a lack of appropriate treatment spring to mind, so I took some time to talk to three mental health professionals – who also happen to be black women – about how our experiences differ from our white counterparts, and how we can get the most out of therapy and counselling.

Dr Shubulade Smith, CBE, is a Consultant Psychiatrist in south London, and emphasises the importance of first being able to understand the difference between psychiatrists and psychologists. 

“A psychiatrist is someone who trained as a medical doctor, [then went] to medical school and then [specialised] in psychiatry in the same way that someone might specialise in surgery. That means that as well as providing counselling services, [they] can prescribe medication,” she explains.