Getting to Know A Therapist Like Me

Connecting and building relationships with another person who is trained to help you navigate life when you need a little extra help.

Dr. Noreal F. Armstrong
Dr. Noreal F. Armstrong
By Dr. Noreal F. Armstrong –

Wellness and taking care of yourself is an essential component of a life well lived.

Too often we spend our days carrying out tasks to survive and we miss doing the things that make life enjoyable to live. Caring for your overall wellness includes physical, mental, emotional, and social health. It may mean you have to change the people you engage with, limit what things you give your energy to, and include time in your daily schedule to take care of your wellness needs. Mental health and wellness are very important needs that are often overlooked.

As a mental health professional, I have heard people say, “I just don’t have time,” “I can sleep when I am dead,” “I don’t want people to think that I am crazy,” and “I just pray about it and keep pushing.” These are all rooted in the belief that we have to have it all together, do it well, and maybe even do it with a smile, and what has that gotten us?

That family member who drinks a 12-pack between getting off work and going to bed, that friend who is ready to have an angry outburst at the smallest thing, that loved one who is ‘always tired’ and doesn’t feel like it; well that is what happens when you neglect your mental health. Taking care of your mental health doesn’t mean you are crazy, or broken, or weak; it means you care about the life you are living, you want to be well, and you understand that it is okay to seek support for some of the things life throws at you.

Counselors know and understand the complexities life can bring and have to be trained to help you see a clearer path to the solution you may need to bring peace to a situation, to make a career change, or to find the words to share your feelings with someone you love. Seeking counseling doesn’t mean you have a mental health diagnosis. If, however, you do, then it is our job to help you understand what it means, to help you navigate it, and to develop a plan for taking care of yourself.

I have worked as a therapist for 13 years and during that time one of the main reasons people don’t seek help is because they aren’t sure where to look and what the process looks like. As CEO and Executive Director of A Therapist Like Me, I want to introduce you to our organization, share about our services, and inform you on how to get the support you need.

A Therapist Like Me is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that started in 2019 dedicated to connecting marginalized clients to marginalized therapists, advancing therapists of color, providing financial gifts to marginalized clients for psychotherapy, reducing societal stigma surrounding mental health, and supporting our community.

In our tenure, we have awarded 62 vouchers to assist in paying for therapy that meets two needs: (1) it allows those who want therapy to afford it, and (2), it allows for marginalized therapists to receive market-rate pay for their services. We are excited to have a directory with 37 mental health therapists and 15 voucher members on the roster. The more members in our directory, the more likely people can find the support they need.

As an organization we are expanding our services to include outreach—serving in the community through our Pop-Up Clinics, collaborating with community agencies, offering professional development trainings for mental health professionals, and mental health events based on community need.

Our Pop-Up Clinics are held at different locations in western North Carolina and offer opportunities to community members to learn about ATLM, receive mental health resources, meet and chat with therapists, discuss current issues, and find connections with others. To learn more about our current and future events please visit our website at www.atherapistlikeme.org.

Below are a few frequently asked questions to help you learn a little more about ATLM. We hope to be of service.

What is counseling and what should I expect?

One definition of counseling is the provision of assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or psychological problems and difficulties; especially by a professional.

As a therapist and counselor educator I explain counseling as a human to human interaction where a person gets to focus on themselves and their needs with assistance to find solutions for the problem(s) they currently face. Broken down even further, counseling is going on, connecting and building relationships with another person who is trained to help you navigate life when you need a little extra help.

You should expect to be greeted and treated with respect, to be informed about the counseling process, the counselor’s background and training, any fees, scheduling, and method of counseling. You should expect to feel safe and supported and at ease to talk about whatever you want to talk about without judgment. You will be informed about client privilege and confidentiality and your rights as a client.

How can I set up an appointment for consultation?

When looking for a therapist, you can look up an agency if you have one in mind, visit our ATLM website and search the directory, and visit websites like Psychology Today and do a search for therapists in your area. Once you find someone you would like to move forward with, you can call or email to set up an appointment. The therapist will guide you from there.

What is the voucher application process?

Our voucher application process is there to help clients who have found voucher member therapists on our website, apply to receive financial assistance to pay for therapy. The instructions and application can be found at www.atherapistlikeme.org/psychotherapy-vouchers.

What are Pop-Up Clinics?

Pop-Up Clinics are used to meet a community’s needs when different local and world events happen. We have a process group for parents working to understand and support their child with Autism. We had a Pop-Up clinic during Hispanic Heritage Month to inform the Hispanic/Latino/x/a/e/o community about who we are, services, and support in finding qualified bilingual counselors.

A Pop-Up clinic may also be gathering at a community center to cry, vent, and discuss the gun crisis and how to protect children in schools. They are a way for ATLM to provide community support when our mental health and wellness are in danger.

How can I get involved?

If you are interested in volunteering or supporting ATLM in any way please email [email protected] Involvement can include facilitating a professional development training, hosting a Pop-Up Clinic, offering to collaborate on a community project or help with our daily operations.

How can I support ATLM?

If you would like to provide financial support to ATLM and our efforts, please visit our donations page at www.atherapistlikeme.org/donations.

Dr. Noreal F. Armstrong is the CEO and Executive Director of A Therapist Like Me.

 

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