Why The Latinx Community Avoids Going To Couples Therapy — Even When They Desperately Need It

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Latinx couples therapy
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Growing up as a young Latina, mental health was always something that was never spoken about in our home. 

There were no conversations surrounding the need to take care of oneself by speaking to a therapist, journaling, taking medications, or practicing other forms of self-care.

It was assumed that if you needed a therapist, you were la loca (the crazy one). 

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Only 20% of Latinx folks who experience mental health issues ever speak to their doctor about their symptoms, and only 10% contact a mental health professional, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

What makes mental health even more challenging in the Latinx community is the culture. 

In the Latinx community, there is the culture of Marianismo and Machismo — the ideas that women should be "good" like the Virgin Mary and the idea that the man should "be a man" (AKA toxic masculinity). Marianismo and Machismo are gender roles in Latin America that have historically caused harm to the Latinx community. This creates challenges in Latinx relationships as these cultural values project their expectations on Latinx couples. 

Marianismo, more specifically, causes women to self-silence, which is the withholding of opinions and expressions and is then linked to anxiety and depression within women.   

The culture within the Latinx community is linked to high rates of mental health issues yet few seek out help. 

Couples therapy is stigmatized even more. If you needed to go to couples counseling, it was assumed that both of you were crazy. Because going to couples therapy is so stigmatized in the Latinx culture, couples who needed therapy would have no idea of how to even begin their search for a couples therapist.

During COVID-19, there was also a spike in domestic violence cases by 35%. But domestic violence has always been a problem in the Latinx community — primarily because of cultural values. Within the Latinx community, about 34.4% of Latinas reported being a victim of domestic violence. This is why more Latinx couples should be going to therapy: to free themselves of societal expectations and live a guilt-free life. 

Couples therapy has shown to improve communication and help couples discover the root causes of major conflicts. It encourages acceptance and restores trust as well. There are so many benefits for couples regardless of culture, race or ethnicity. But for the Latinx community, couples therapy can be life-changing because it will challenge their perception of how things should be — like gender roles — and move toward a more accepting mindset.  

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It's even more important for Latinx couples to find a therapist that speaks their language and understands their culture. Having a therapist that can speak the same language allows for smoother communication and a better understanding of everyone’s side. 

Mental health and therapy in the Latinx community carry a stigma, but the wonderful thing is that stigmas can always be broken. The Latinx community needs to move away from cultural expectations and move towards a more accepting mindset — even if that means challenging traditional notions that we’ve been brought up on. 

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Angelique Beluso is a sex educator and writer who covers feminism, pop culture and relationship topics. Follow her on Instagram @ArtistNamedAngelique.