Portland Lifestyle Counseling, LLC
Mindfulness Based Counseling for Midlife Issues, High Sensitivity Personality Trait (HSP), Women's Trauma and more in Portland, OR.
Social worker, counselor, and life coach

African Americans and Counseling

Article by M. Joy Young, LCSW, ACSW Portland Oregon

Are you African American living in Portland Oregon and struggling any of the following:

Like you I have dealt with these challenges. Being a Portland native I understand how Portland can appear to people of color. Many people have shared with me their experience of culture shock upon moving to Portland. There is an adjustment to living in the City of Roses plus there can be other issues to face as well.

Unfortunately most African Americans do not ever seek counseling when it could be a benefit. Many of us view counseling or psychotherapy with suspicion and caution. I want to help change this.

As African Americans and other people of color we seem to have the idea that we do not have many of the same issues as white people. There is an old belief that somehow childhood dysfunction, psychological development and the developmental crisis that come with it don't affect us or are not relevant to us. Being the decedents of people who endured the ultimate human horror - slavery - and the extreme hardships of racism and discrimination, we feel that many of the modern problems seem small and trivial. We can even sometimes feel almost ashamed thinking, "Why am I complaining. So many of us have lived through and seen far worse".

As a result of all this many of our own issues go without help. To be fair, counseling still has a stigma associated with it no matter your race or ethnicity. However non-people of color are not dissuaded from therapy or counseling and end up using this valuable service and benefiting from it. Many get better, move past issues in their lives, and go on to live more productive and satisfying lives. As African Americans we are not, often enough, taking advantage of a service available to us.

There are other reasons besides social/cultural stigma that keep us from counseling. In many African American communities problems are to be shared within one's church group or family network rather than in counseling. Now this is fine and I believe friends, family and religious affiliation can be very helpful. For many of us it is an affordable and comfortable way of addressing issues but you don't have to stop there. Sometimes church ministers and pastors are not trained in psychology, personal growth, or development like a trusted counselor or therapist. Friends and family can mean well but may be too close to your problems or have invested interest in your decisions unlike a counselor who is objective and has no agenda except to support you. And lastly sometimes our issues are just too much for family and others to handle effectively.

Other Issues For Counseling

Besides the challenge of being an African American living in Portland Oregon and personal psychological issues there may be other issues that counseling can help with.

These are unique issues that African Americans and other people of color face. In our culture many of these problems will be little understood. Some professionals may not even consider these "real" problems. You do not have to face these issues alone.

As a professional counselor with not only the training and expertise to help you with your unique emotional and psychological issues I also offer you personal understanding and life experience helping you

Other distinctive services include:

If you are ready to give therapy a try contact Joy Young at 503-309-1163 or email at and let's talk about beginning a respectful, equitable, and non-pathologizing counseling relationship.