As a SonderMind clinician, understanding clients’ unique needs is key to providing care that drives better outcomes. That’s why we’re sharing insights from LaShon Sawyer, MSSA, PhD, LISW-S, a SonderMind therapist and member of the BIPOC community. In the following Q&A with LaShon, she shares her experiences and observations regarding the unique needs of BIPOC clients, and how clinicians can best support this community as a whole.
Over the course of my 28 year career, I have had so many memorable moments that absolutely continue to fuel me to do this work. I bring all of my Blackness, my femininity, my culture, my authenticity, my humor, etc. to my sessions. I have to be comfortable in my skin to support clients that are seeking peace or attempting to cope with challenges. In order for me to provide the best services, I have to be all of who I am 24/7, no exceptions. I cannot and will not leave ANY portion of my identity at the door. It’s a disservice to the clients and it’s a disservice to my wellness. I have to be whole in order to promote wholeness with clients. The intersectionality of my womanhood and race is part of the reason that I have worked to offer racial trauma services. My lived experiences as a Black woman in America, my work in communities, correctional facilities, and compliment my academic training to provide such services.
An area that requires constant attention in my practice is having a large enough network of other clinicians that have expertise and comfort servicing clients in areas that I do not serve. For example, I don’t provide couple counseling services or child therapeutic services at this time. I am always networking to find other practitioners that provide these services. This is more challenging when clients desire to work with clinicians representing a particular racial identity. Sadly, there are not as many BIPOC therapists to go around to meet the needs of all clients in a timely manner.
The greatest need I see for BIPOC clients is the need for more qualified BIPOC therapists. As a Black therapist, I am a part of a small number of clinical professionals in the US. Current estimates indicate that only 4% of therapists identify as Black. Only 6% of the same pool of clinicians identify as Hispanic/Latin. That is only roughly 10% of all clinicians in the US. Representation is critical for clients to have the CHOICE to build a relationship with someone that looks like and lives like them. This is particularly valuable when clients express struggles with racism, microaggressions, and other attacks on their psychological safety at work, in the community, or other spaces.
There is not one experience for any race of people. Each person has their own individual lived experience. There may be commonalities in language, food, culture among BIPOC clients, but each client is an individual. I would encourage all clinicians to refrain from assuming that each person representing a particular race or ethnicity sees life in the exact same way. Just like there is variety between groups, there is just as much variety within a group.
At SonderMind, we’re here to support clinicians in providing high-quality, evidence-based care that meets the mental health needs of the BIPOC community and all clients. That’s why, as a SonderMind clinician, you get access to resources to ensure you’re supported in delivering high-quality care, every step of the way. Check out these articles to further your knowledge and enhance your skills to best serve clients and their unique needs:
SonderMind invests in our clinicians’ success and continued development, including access to career-building opportunities, ongoing training, peer consultations, continuing education (CE), and resources for delivering effective measurement-based care. If you’re seeking to improve your knowledge, awareness, and skills when conducting clinical work with the BIPOC community and want to drive effective care through evidence-based practices, consider joining SonderMind to get the support you need to reach these goals, and more.