What do you love most about therapy?
There are a lot of things that I love about therapy but I love the parallel process most. What I mean by this is that I have learned a great deal about myself in helping other people become more aware of themselves.
What are your specialties and how are you different from other therapists?
My specialties include trauma and substance use disorders, and I feel that I am different from other therapists in a lot of ways; the most obvious being that I am an African American male, which I hear is rare in this field.
I also feel that I am different because I work to avoid giving a definitive answer to questions like ‘what population do you work best with?’ Almost to the point of activism or protest. The reason that I don’t like this question is because I don’t feel that it is or should be up to me as a therapist to verbalize preferences when it comes to clients. I feel that this is the biggest admission of lack of cultural competence. How could I ever feel comfortable peddling that?
I look at what is essentially becoming a social problem in the black community and that is underutilization of mental health services. This is largely influenced by a lack of minority therapists – especially black males. Lets hypothetically say that I, a black male therapist, didn’t like to work with black people. In addition to this being a completely ignorant position for me to have, I am just not built like that. If the community needs help, it doesn’t make sense for me to have hard and fast rules about who I am able to help. If I face challenges with a particular population, I work harder to try and find my way in.
How do you inspire hope in your clients?
I listen. In my experience, there is almost always something there that can be used as a source of inspiration. For my severely depressed clients who sometimes possess a deep sense of hopelessness, I affirm the fact that they made it in to therapy today. I also love how showing genuine empathy can break down barriers and allow people to be vulnerable. This allows them to open up fully about what has been bothering them, holding them back, and allows them to make lasting changes in their lives.
What do you want all clients to know prior to coming to therapy?
I want all my clients to know that therapy can be a useful thing and that it is okay to work on figuring things out. Therapy can be implemented as a part of overall wellness and self-care.