My Story: Searching for a Mental Health Professional That Understands Me

By Saniya Ghanoui —

IK talks about her experience with finding the right mental health professional for herself.


OBOS Today: How do you think that kind of having so many identities and being treated by professionals that maybe didn’t understand those identities or hadn’t experience them, how do you think that that affected your treatment? 

IK: Um I’ve found that um, only recently I’ve been able to find a mental health professional that was maybe identified with me, say a woman of color and someone who is, I think, comes from a similar background that I do.  So, it’s a South-Asian man is my psychiatrist so he kind of understands a lot of my, maybe family dynamics and, you know, things like that, things that could have possibly shaped the way my behaviors manifest, right?

And I found that their treatment is very different from how other mental health professionals have treated me where the other mental health professionals would kind of come at me with either judgment or I think that, I think their lack, their inability to maybe identify with me made them feel that I was separate from them and kind of, I felt a sort of, I can’t say for sure that this is what, you know, made my treatment the way it was or was, is the reason why my past counselors or psychiatrists treated me the way they did, but I felt a sort of white savior complex where they felt like they needed to come in and save me, but weren’t actually being anything to help me ‘cause they were not making the effort to maybe help me, help me contextualize all the little pieces, you know, in my life or in my behaviors. It was more of, you know, almost every response was, you know, with pity or it just, I felt very distant from them, and their treatment even reflected that distance.

And obviously that didn’t help me because it was more of like oh, oh, I’m sorry for you, or oh, I’m sorry for you, instead of actually, you know, being able to help me the way a professional would rather than, you know, a friend. A friend, you know, if you need someone to lean on and someone to be sorry for you, you have friends for that, you have family for that, that, that was not what I was seeking out at the time so I felt like I was going through all this effort to try and open up and advocate for myself and find the help that I think, I thought I needed and to like again and again be failed in that way where I felt that the professional was just treating me with pity or, you know? That’s what I kind of got from those interactions, and so obviously that started to have me lose faith in the, in health care, and, you know, mental health care in general, and yeah.