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Therapist Helps People of Color Cope With Effects of Racism

Published Monday Mar 11, 2024

Author Kevin G. Andrade

Nicole Sublette has been providing therapy in NH since 2019. She made it through the chaos of the pandemic and the George Floyd uprising while working at mental health enterprises run by others.

Until she met a patient that made her rethink things. “This client felt suicidal, and part of her suicidality was that she was continuously gaslit,” Sublette recalls. “Her experiences of racism were continually invalidated in New Hampshire.”

The recognition that the Granite State’s growing population of color needed therapists keyed into their needs led to the creation of Therapists of Color in April 2023. Since then, the practice has grown to five therapists—with one more set to come on board in March.

“The mental health field is historically rooted and founded in racism,” says Nicole Sublette, the founder and owner of Manchester-based Therapists of Color. “They might receive more severe mental health diagnoses. For example, a person of color is more likely to be inaccurately diagnosed with schizophrenia. One of the first pathologies was drapetomania, where slaves were pathologized for attempting to run away.”

New Hampshire’s overwhelmingly white population has often meant widely recognized microaggressions go unacknowledged—and unchallenged—here. “Due to the lack of diversity in New Hampshire, people sometimes have a hard time believing racism and prejudice still exist,” Sublette says.

The environment creates a sense of powerlessness and invisibility, and Sublette hopes to help people feel seen and heard with the issues they’re facing. “We live within institutions and hierarchies that oppress,” she says. “It is my hope that when people come to my practice, they feel affirmed and validated.”

Sublette says she has democratized management as much as possible, considering all her staff when making decisions. “Even though the hierarchy exists, I want to minimize that.”

As NH diversifies, Sublette says the need for businesses such as hers becomes even more important because traditionally, people of color have been underserved and under resourced  “I know people who hold marginalized identities—including LGBTQ—in the United States are often scared,” she says, adding that everyone can benefit from mental health services. “The human condition of suffering, unless we hit enlightenment, is not going to go away soon.” 

To learn more, listen to Nicole Sublett's interview on BizCastNH

Photo by Raya On Assignment, courtesy of NH Community Loan Fund.

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