The Alberta Black Therapists Network (ABTN) is made up by a group of Black licensed and regulated professionals from various interdisciplinary backgrounds working in the field of mental health and addictions. The network was formed out of need- in response to the health inequalities,in particular in mental health experienced by black Canadians, the ABTN understands that it will take anti black racism,anti- oppressive and systematic changes to improve the mental wellbeing for Black Canadians. We believe in the psychological well being of our community, and the society as a whole. Through networking, continued training, and use of evidence-based approaches, and understanding racialized trauma, anti- racist and culturally empowered lens, we strive to ensure the highest quality of therapeutic services are provided to our communities. We aim to increase emotional wellness and the application of self care skills such as self-awareness, self-confidence, positive thinking, goal setting, responsible decision making, and healthy relationships. At the core, we normalize lived experiences,engage in psycho-education to reduce barriers to psychological health and decrease stigma against seeking additional support when needed.
The therapists on the network professionals who have completed at least a Master’s-level Counselling program, and they are regulated by regulatory bodies such as the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA),the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP), Alberta College of Social Workers ( ACSW),Canadian Professional Counsellors Association (CPCA) and Professional Association of Christian Counsellors and Psychotherapists (PACCP).
We are responding to a need that's already there
It is not surprising that our story began with a single meeting and a conversation over food. We met for the very first time to celebrate Black history month in February of 2020 and since then, it has grown to be more than just a meeting.
An adage that best describes why and how we came about is “ when you come up with an idea, it’s because there is already a need for it.” This stands true to the origin of ABTN. The health inequalities experienced by Black Canadians have long been researched extensively and these include black Canadians being twice as likely to be mis-diagnosed,and have two times the delay in accessing psychological support. In addition to the inequalities of Mental Health, clinicians often expressed that they feel as though they were the “only” black therapist within their organizations, hence missing their tribe; a space where they can connect and work with other black professionals.
The clinicians who seldom serve black clients echoed that their clients either intentionally sought them or they expressed a sigh of relief when they finally met them due to being misunderstood in the past by clinicians who could not understand their experiences especially when those experiences involved racism and/or racial trauma.
As founders of ATBN, we are all resilient immigrants who came from countries that did not treat mental health as a societal problem, but an individual shameful one that was at the back burner of their agenda. Therefore, it is crucial that participants of our services see practitioners who look like them, those whom they can trust to understand and connect with them.
Cognizant of these challenges to mental health, the ABTN was formed. The organization began as a network of Therapists from various interdisciplinary backgrounds working in both mental health and addictions.
ABTN understands that it will take and understanding of radicalized trauma and an anti black racism, anti-oppressive and systematic changes to improve the mental wellbeing for Black Canadians. At ABTN we understand that the stigma around mental health conditions is still pervasive in our society. For many Black communities, discussing mental health can be a difficult subject.
We are also aware that black Canadians have been, and continue to be, negatively affected by prejudice and discrimination in the health care system. Conscious or unconscious bias from providers and lack of cultural awareness can result in misdiagnosis, inadequate treatment and mistrust of mental health professionals. These disparities can create a distrust in mental health professionals, which can prevent many from seeking or continuing treatment.
Everyone regards to be treated with dignity and respect.Every person requires equal opportunities to accessing health.