If you're an indigenous person who requires the help of a mental health professional, a good starting point is to confer with your family doctor. He or she can refer you to someone, but you may wish to ask if the doctor can find a mental health professional in the area who is also indigenous. There's little doubt that a non-indigenous practitioner could be an asset to you, but the idea of finding someone who has a similar background to you may be highly appealing. Here are some reasons that it's worthwhile to choose an indigenous mental health professional.
A Shared Heritage
Members of the indigenous community often have a significant respect for their heritage, and it may impact a lot of the decisions that you make. It's ideal if you can work with a mental health practitioner who is also indigenous, as you'll immediately have a shared bond that can make you feel an affinity for one another. Mental health counseling sessions work best when the patient is able to open up in an honest manner, and it's possible that you find more ease of being open and honest when your practitioner shares the same heritage as you.
Awareness Of Issues
Unfortunately, members of the indigenous community often face a variety of issues — including many that may be a part of your mental health struggles. Poverty, racism, and substance abuse are issues that many indigenous people need to overcome generation after generation, and you may feel as though an indigenous mental health professional has a better awareness of these issues and the role that they play in your peoples' lives than someone who has a different background. It's even possible that the mental health professional has had to overcome one or more of these issues himself or herself, which can help him or her to better relate to you.
More Feelings Of Trust
It's possible that you lack trust for people from other cultures. Even if you want to trust others equally, your upbringing may have taught you that people from other cultures are out to cause harm to those who are indigenous. If you were to meet with a mental health professional who belongs to a culture that you do not inherently trust, your sessions may not go smoothly. Conversely, when you sit across from an indigenous mental health practitioner, you'll likely feel a higher degree of trust.
For more information, contact a counselor in your area.