For some, arriving to a point in life where you can openly admit that you’re in need of mental health services is notable and commendable. Recognizing that exposing some painful things in your past in an effort to heal is a first step many want to take but just aren’t comfortable in doing so. Within the African American community, one of the biggest hindrances includes opening up to a therapist that neither looks like them, nor can relate culturally.
This is something Tomina Ward can attest to all too well. An accomplished Career Counselor, Ward shares that in the past she has sought the assistance of a mental health clinician, having had experiences with both a Black therapist and a White one. While they both rendered effective services, Ward noticed a stark difference in the experiences. “When I walked in and saw she looked like me, I just felt at ease. I was happy to see her. I was like ‘she’s gonna understand me, and I’m looking forward to her helping me’.” This sense of comfort was crucial for Ward and reassuring.
As time progressed, Ward found herself at a place in her life where she would again need the guidance of a mental health clinician, however she wasn’t too sure where to start her search. “I Googled Black therapists, and I was having difficulty trying to find one.” Usually when she has difficulties of this nature, Ward shared that she normally turns to the trusted App Store, looking for solutions that may be resting there. “I immediately went to search for an app that would connect the Black community with Black therapists. I couldn’t find one,” she recalls.
This experience motivated her to take matters into her own hands, becoming the Founder and CEO of an app that would bridge the gap between potential clients and mental health clinicians. It’s called Black Therapy Love.
Black Therapy Love provides a place where those seeking services can interact with therapists, counselors, and coaches opening the dialogue and bridging the gap between mental health professionals and the Black community. The app is also considered user friendly, allowing for user messaging, access to professionals’ profiles and the ability to get to know a bit more of their why. “There’s a directory that differs from a basic directory, where the user in turn can click on the therapist’s information, hear a video message from the professional, and be led to their website or business information to book appointments,” Ward explains.
The app is also interactive allowing users to feel a level of comfort with professionals through building rapport. “In the app’s message boards, different mental health issues will be discussed and can change as needed. If there is a new topic the community wants to see, it can be updated on the app for discussion,” she added. In addition to the discussion, Black Therapy Love features a ‘Collab’ tab for artists, allowing businesses to advertise their services, films and songs. The app is currently a shareable app, meaning you can download directly from her website, Instagram, or Facebook. Ward explains, she wants the app to be free, and for the users to not have to deal with pop up ads at this time.
Though it’s in its infancy stages, the app has already gotten rave reviews through its followers on Instagram with comments like “Much needed,” and “This is an amazing idea.” Ward is excited about the app and the impact it can make in the Black community and mental health world. When asked how she’s feeling about it all, Ward said “I’m nervous and excited. My purpose is helping people, and that makes me feel good.” As the directory grows, she encourages any certified African American therapists, counselors and coaches that would like their business featured through the app to please connect with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.