It is difficult to find a therapist of color. These websites want to change that.

It is difficult to find a therapist of color.  These websites want to change that.

Other organizations go a step further and help patients make therapy appointments. the non-profit Black men healed, for example, offers up to eight free online counseling sessions. About 70 percent of clients choose to pay for additional sessions, said its executive director, Tasnim Sulaiman, a psychotherapist in a private practice in the Philadelphia area who founded the organization in 2018.

It can be difficult for people of color to find a therapist with a shared cultural background. According to the Census BureauAbout 18 percent of people in the United States identify as Hispanic and 13 percent as black, but one Report from the American Psychological Association found that only 5 percent of psychologists are Hispanic and 4 percent are black – 86 percent are white. A similar disparity exists between the countries of social workers and psychiatrists.

Eric Coly, who previously worked in finance, founded Ayana Therapy in 2020, about eight years after hitting rock bottom while facing anxiety and depression.

At the time, he struggled to find a therapist who could understand the intersection of his different identities as a black man and an immigrant from Senegal who has lived in different parts of the world.

“This product was almost meant to heal my former self,” he said.

Ayana, which means “mirror” in Bengali, asks users to complete a questionnaire designed to capture “your many nuances,” said Mr. Coly, then pairs you with a culturally competent therapist. The cost of each online session is currently $60.

Providers are vetted through a process that includes two interviews and reference checks.

While Ayana is made for a wide range of races and cultures, as well as those who identify as LGBTQ, some websites target a more niche set of users such as LatinxTherapy, Therapy for black girls, Therapy for black men, the Asian Mental Health Collective and the Color Network National Queer and Transtherapists. Melanin and Mental Health contains a list of therapists of color, many of whom are in Houston. The Black collective for emotional and mental health, a wellness nonprofit organization that trains people to respond to mental health crises, has an online directory of a variety of black practitioners, including therapists, yoga instructors, doulas, and mediators.

Employers are also beginning to recognize the need for culturally competent providers. Indeed, Thumbtack and Critical Mass, part of Omnicom Group, recently partnered with elevate, which uses artificial intelligence technology to match employees with providers in their state. Half of Therify’s nearly 300 online therapists are people of color, and 20 percent specialize in helping clients who identify as LGBTQ, said James Edward Murray, the company’s CEO, who interviews each provider.

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