Health

And the Emmy Goes to … My Therapist


Experts say that when Black celebrities speak openly about attending therapy, they see a surge in calls from new patients who were inspired to seek help. The hip-hop artist Jay-Z talked about therapy in a 2017 interview with The New York Times. In 2018, the radio host known as Charlamagne Tha God published a memoir, “Shook One: Anxiety Playing Tricks on Me,” in which he talked about the importance of therapy.

“I think it’s important for men especially to hear other men talk about it, because men deal with that extra masculinity stigma,” said Tasnim Sulaiman, a Philadelphia-area therapist and founder of BlackMenHeal.org, which provides free therapy to Black men. “You know there’s a man sitting on his couch who sees that and thinks, ‘If he says his life has been changed, maybe that could work for me.’”

The group is recruiting Black therapists around the country, particularly New York City, where it has a long waiting list, but it has been a challenge to find therapists of color. According to a 2018 report from the American Psychological Association’s Center for Workforce Studies, only 4 percent of therapists are Black. So far, BlackMenHeal.org has offered more than 600 therapy sessions to about 100 men. About 60 percent have continued with therapy after the free program ended, Ms. Sulaiman said.

“We ask our men to do what Cord did, to go out into their communities to talk to their peers, their cousins, sons, brothers and share their experience,” she said. “Cord just helped to create a safe space for men to step into a healing journey.”

Mr. Jefferson, 38, said he briefly started therapy in his 20s to deal with anger issues, but didn’t return to therapy until 2013, when his mother was given a diagnosis of cancer. A few years ago he started seeing his current therapist, who was referred to him by a friend. He said he believes his work in therapy has helped his career, which is why it was fitting to thank his therapist when he received the Emmy.

“The work of a TV writer is so much about thinking about characters and character motivation, things that go unsaid, and decisions that people make and why they make those decisions,” Mr. Jefferson said. “Sitting with someone every week and dissecting my own decisions and the connective tissue with something that happened in my childhood — sort of like sifting through details of my life — that helps so much when I think about characters and story. The introspection helps me out when I sit down to write.”

In addition to therapy, Mr. Jefferson said he has tried meditation, but has not been able to practice it consistently. He said he prefers to watch the feed from a web camera showing the jellyfish at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which runs from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific time.



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