Therapy is a requirement. PERIODT. Regardless of how much money or how many friends we do or do not have, the lingering emotional and psychological abuse many of us have experienced as children and continue to experience as adults remains unresolved. When done right, therapy has the potential to cure generational trauma and restore life.
We had the opportunity to chat with Allyson Valley, therapist and Founder and CEO of Soulace, a virtual therapy app for Black people seeking Black therapists. The app utilizes in-app scheduling and supports text and video sessions. Their goal is to provide a full-service therapy experience. We talked about misconceptions around therapy, best practices, tricks, and words of advice.
1. What does therapy mean to you?
Emotional freedom and security. You can go there. You can unbury your bones. You can lay your demons out there. You can celebrate your highest moments. Just to be in a space, whether over telehealth or in-person, where you can just be your truest self without judgment. I have not been to a place freer than therapy when it comes to just feeling like I am me every single second that I’m there.
2. What are some misconceptions about therapy?
Therapists are in cahoots with social workers. If I come talk to this therapist, this therapist is going to report me for x, y, z, and now, I’m at risk of losing my child and everything that I have. “I don’t need a therapist because I have Jesus.” I respect everyone’s religious background and spirituality. You can have Jesus and a therapist. Sometimes you need someone in the human form that can help you.
Therapy is for weak or crazy people. I like the comparison people try to make between a therapist and going to see your doctor. You don’t have to be sick to go. Sometimes you’re just going for a wellness check to make sure that you’re fine. Price of therapy. The price of therapy exists on a spectrum. There are resources for free therapy. If you are in a position to have insurance, your insurance will cover therapy up until a point. There are so many other things that we spend money on. You might not be able to get therapy for free, but you can get it reduced.
3. How do we best prepare for therapy?
Interview your therapist. Ask them what is their therapy style. Most of us, if you’re not a therapist, or you haven’t been to therapy, you don’t even know what that means. I’m a humanistic person. My client’s needs come first. I like to be that cheerleader. I don’t try to force them into things that they don’t want to do. I truly try to figure out what is it that you need from me and how can I get you to that point where you no longer need me. If you don’t have that opportunity to interview your therapist and learn more about them and what they can provide for you, I believe that can mess up the foundation of therapy. More therapists should lean into [that].
4. How do you know you’re ready for therapy?
There’s no prerequisite for therapy. Assess if you are at a crisis point [in] your life because many people don’t come to therapy until something is going on. I think that can cloud your judgment [of] your therapist because you’re looking for the person who’s going to give you [a quick] fix. Try to be proactive. Even when you’re good, get a hold of the thought of going to therapy. Once you’re feeling like the world is crashing down, you’re not going to a therapist just so they can fix this one problem.
Therapy is definitely a process and it’s not the prettiest process. Do it whenever, but if you can catch yourself before [a crisis], that is when you can create a better relationship with your therapist. And when a crisis comes, you don’t mind going into their office and bawling or releasing anger because you already know that this is a supportive person for you.
5. What’re your tips for parents whose child is in therapy or wants to go to therapy?
My best tip for parents has always been, you’re allowing them to come to therapy for a reason. You want to see your child happy. You want to see them grow. This is when you cut the umbilical cord. Allow them to have that freedom and that privacy to go in here and to potentially talk about you and the things that were said over dinner. When they leave out of this office or when they close out of Zoom, don’t ask them about it. It’s kinda hard. But you have to be able to let them grow individually. As a parent, I need you to respect their privacy and be as supportive as you can and maybe they’ll come around to letting you know what therapy is like for them.
6. What’s the youngest you’ve seen in therapy?
The youngest was 5. The sessions were beautiful. For children, there’s a thing called “Play Therapy” where you sit down with them and you let them choose different toys and you play with them. Before you know it, they’re telling you their entire life. That is the power of just letting children play and be happy.