“Working with me looks like challenging norms and hegemony; I help you define yourself for yourself and free yourself from the rules and socialization that keep so many of us bound to familiar and unhelpful patterns and behaviors.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
My path to therapy has been a nontraditional one. I struggled with finding my place in the world and focused on respectability and achieving normative expectations in my early career, landing in corporate America. I found this unfulfilling and left this space to travel and nurture my love of dance and music. During this journey, I came to understand the need for a different approach toward healing for BIPOC folx. I pursued research that focused on historical trauma responses and the role of cultural scripts for Black women. I homed in on expanding our conceptualization of wellness, particularly related to the lived experiences of Black women. While I've acquired master's and doctoral degrees in social work and have obtained traditional certifications and training in trauma, CBT, and various third-wave modalities, my practice approach seeks to support folx in finding liberation and joy through resistance, radical self-care, and collective healing.
What should someone know about working with you?
Working with me looks like challenging norms and hegemony; I help you define yourself for yourself and free yourself from the rules and socialization that keep so many of us bound to familiar and unhelpful patterns and behaviors. My intake process seeks to understand who you are, who you want to be, and how you came to define this. From there, we will work together to develop a plan that supports you in getting unstuck. My job is to accompany you on your journey toward freedom from whatever has you bound. I work with you to develop your own expanding definition of wellness and carve out the pathway. I support the illumination of your core self, moving beyond survival and existence toward experiences of happiness, peace, and joy on your terms. At your core, you already know what this looks like; our job is to unleash the confidence and creativity that will take you there.
How do your own core values shape your approach to therapy?
Years ago, I completed a values exercise and I remember looking at the list and thinking a lot was missing. I easily found words like “trust”, “security”, and “stability”, but I scoured the list for the word "fun" and couldn't find it. I find that traditional approaches focus on getting us functioning and there isn't a great deal of investment in finding and maintaining joy. Our society focuses on the absence of disease and calls this wellness but I don't think this is enough. I'm a dancer; I love to play and laugh. Fun and laughter are at the center of my values, and as a Black woman, I was socialized to believe this was too much to expect. I want the folx I work with to embrace knowing that it absolutely is not!
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
I've done quite a bit of research as an academic and lecturer. My research focuses on anti-Black racism, historical trauma, cultural scripts (specifically the Strong Black Woman archetype), and intergenerational pathways toward healing. Through my work, I've come to understand that many traditional modalities, assessments, and therapeutic approaches were not developed with BIPOC and QTPOC folx in mind. Many BIPOC folx experience re-traumatization and revictimization when seeking help due to the normalization of one-size-fits-all approaches designed for the dominant population. While I do integrate some traditional theories, I also examine what other healing frameworks exist that may better suit different populations. My practice is informed by this research in that I understand and account for the relevance of identity and positionality in how we show up and experience the world.
“My intake process seeks to understand who you are, who you want to be, and how you came to define this.”