Being a dad is no joke. Having to balance work, school, groceries, bills, being a chauffeur for kids, and more leaves you with limited time for yourself.
Fathers can also fall victim to the “man up” mentality, which can cause them to overlook certain feelings and emotions. But as the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. When you aren’t taking care of yourself, you hurt your ability to enrich the lives of your children, co-parents, and those you care about the most.
Therapy can help you work through depression, anxiety, anger, and in navigating any tough life situations. Through therapy, fathers may put themselves in a better position to receive the support they need in all areas of their life.
Not sure where to start? Keep reading for Alma’s advice on beginning your mental health journey.
Alma is a mental health platform simplifying access to high-quality, in-network mental health care for everyone. Start your search for a culturally sensitive therapist who meets your needs today.
1. Choose a therapist that understands your life experiences
This can mean choosing someone who shares your race, religion, or gender. Having a shared identity with your therapist often leads to better outcomes, as you’re not having to explain yourself or your experiences.
A culturally sensitive therapist will better understand the norms and expectations that exist within the Black community. This means they’ll meet you with a more open mind, discussing things like your background, upbringing, and daily realities from a place of neutrality and acceptance, rather than judgment. Check out Alma’s provider directory, which allows you to filter your search according to race, gender, expertise, and more.
Finding a therapist with experience in parenting can help, too. Having this added expertise can give you a trusted partner when navigating the difficult moments that accompany parenthood. They may also help you access resources for communicating with your children, processing emotions in a healthy way, and discovering community resources available to you.
When reaching out to a clinician to schedule a consultation, consider asking these questions, recommended by Alma therapist Charisma Houston, LMFT, to gauge a clinician’s cultural sensitivity:
What trainings, readings, or things have you done to reflect on your own cultural sensitivity?
What is your comfort level when talking about topics like privilege, racism, discrimination, or systemic oppression?
What is your experience when it comes to working with Black clients?
2. Your child or partner doesn’t need to be the focus of your therapy
Being a parent doesn’t mean that’s all you are. You still have desires, hopes, dreams, needs, and wants. So as you begin your mental health journey, remember you’re allowed to exist outside of being a parent or someone’s partner. And that doesn’t make you a bad father. On the contrary, it puts you in a better position to help those who rely on you the most.
3. Streamline your search with Alma
Finding a therapist can be daunting. Searching through pages of directory listings, navigating insurance, deciphering different approaches to therapy, and ultimately finding someone who’s taking new clients is not easy. Alma’s directory and insurance support simplify this, making it easier to find someone who meets your needs — try it for yourself.
4. Finding the right therapist may take time
Landing on a therapist who you feel comfortable with is a lot like dating — it may take some trial and error to find someone who feels right for you. Treat this process like any other relationship and regularly check in with yourself to determine whether or not they’re working for you. Just remember it may take a couple of sessions to figure out how you’re feeling.
5. Therapy can be for a reason or a season
Say you just had your first child and you’re looking for some added support as you adjust to being a new parent, or maybe you’re experiencing a roadblock in life and want a professional to speak with. Therapy doesn’t have to be a constant commitment. You can choose to use therapy to better navigate a specific challenge, or go deeper and address bigger life changes you’re looking to make.
6. Recommendations from friends and family are invaluable
Word of mouth goes a long way. A referral or recommendation from a trusted friend or family member can simplify your search. And if the therapist they recommend can’t work with you for any reason, consider asking for a referral. There’s a good chance they’ll know other therapists with similar backgrounds and expertise. And if the initial recommendation comes from another Black parent, that’s even better, as the clinician will be more likely to understand your perspective and concerns.
7. Practice leads to growth
Progress in therapy is much more than just showing up for your appointments, it’s also about practicing outside of your session. With all that comes with being a parent, it’s understandable that you might be hesitant to give yourself another thing to think about. But finding ways to incorporate topics you discuss in session into your daily life can amplify the impact of therapy and is ultimately how you’ll know the therapy is working for you.
As a parent, going to therapy isn’t just about bettering yourself. It’s also about you becoming the father that your kids need. Find a therapist who meets your needs by searching Alma’s directory today. Submit free consultation requests and find a clinician who accepts your insurance.
Merhawi Kidane is a writer and content marketing manager at Alma.