Way back in 2017 I made the leap to join the world of private practice. I started a company called Therapysense Ltd. I had no idea how to run a psychology practice and I went on webinar after webinar, read book after book. I still didn’t really know who I wanted to support.
I was stuck because I know deep down, I wanted to work with south Asians, but I also knew that they didn’t really access therapy. I didn’t even know how I would market.
I realized I had to start somewhere and that needed to be to earn money and develop my confidence of being a sole practitioner. It was a huge learning curve.
I didn’t know social media that well, I didn’t even have a professional network because I had locumed and prior to that I was on maternity leave.
I didn’t really feel like I had a niche.
Who was I serving?
So, I decided to add my name as a psychologist for insurance companies. I began to say yes to lots of referrals. They like that. The work was like primary care work, 12 sessions of therapy (sometimes more if you felt they needed it) and the client was gone.
The work was… what it was. What I had been doing since I qualified.
Deep down my heart wanted more. One day I was emailed by an insurance company and the name was not English. My heart skipped a beat. She was a Muslim woman.
The sessions with her felt so refreshing, we explored relationships, religion, patriarchy, expectations, duty, womanhood. I felt nourished. I felt the work we did together was deep. I knew in my heart that I had not ‘fixed’ her, but I knew she left feeling cared for, understood (even when I didn’t know something I would ask, and I felt compelled to read about it in my own time).
This was what I wanted to do. I love culture.
Clinical training and the mundane of working in statutory organizations wiped out any of desires of questioning race and culture. Simply because, they didn’t show up in those spaces.
I began to question what had happened to me. Why I became, general and why I felt a knot in my stomach when I spoke about my Asian-ness in white spaces.
I went to therapy to think about my identity and to help me reclaim what I was hiding.
These were all needed to be expressed so I could make meaning of them.
What I see is not enough of us, showing up, speaking our truth.
Our training professionally and through what our parents taught us was to not speak up.
As therapists we are “neutral”. We shouldn’t show who we are.
As daughters we should be quiet, never talk back and never express autonomy.
These are things I struggle with, even today.
But by showing up and sharing, I am seeing many like us. Being that little more braver.
If you feel this is something you would like support with…
We have got your back.
Dr Tina Mistry, Founder of BTN