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How Did We Get Here (therapist ver.): My Therapist Origin Story

Black female therapist

Picture it: Spring 2012, senior year of high school

A young girl in a white polo shirt, khaki skirt, and penni loafers sits through her first Psychology 101 class. Most of her friends are in the AP placement class, but she didn't want to pressure herself. She already new she wanted to major in creative writing in college, but thought maybe there's something else out there she could do; she was the go-to person in her friend group for advice and counsel after all. After the first class finished she thought, "Ah, so there's a job field for this."


Growing up as an only child with family members 20yrs+ my elder, I spent a lot of time alone and unable to relate. There are a few ways I was perceived growing up a shy and introverted Black girl. I was either seen as "full of myself" and "too good for people" because I rarely engaged in social interactions, or those who worked to get to know me saw I was a good listener and understanding. On the one hand this alone time helped me find various ways to entertain myself, but on the other hand I not only felt lonely, but didn’t quite always know how to interact with others. It was through this journey for connection that I found myself wanting to help others connect and be their authentic selves in ways my younger nerdy, quirky, younger Black girl self strived for.


Fast forward to spring 2016, senior year of college

That cute Black girl from high school was now a cute and depressed Black girl getting ready for the real world. I was deep into my Criminal Minds phase thinking I'd get a degree in Forensic Psychology to be a criminal profiler (which, apparently, most therapists experience). I almost worked at a certain three letter agency in our nation's capital, but unfortunately things didn't work out and I was back to planning what my therapist life could be. Loads of crying and one presidential election later, I pivoted back to the counseling field.




I learned how to be the therapist and the client

One of the things I'm grateful to my program for was requiring us to attend at least six therapy sessions so that we learned what it felt like to be on the other side of the couch. My classmates, all riddled with varying mental health concerns because most of us don't become therapists unscathed from life, thought "HELL YEAH!"


I didn't have the opportunity I needed in ungrad, but I took full advantage in grad school to engage in my own therapy. My sessions reaffirmed why I was studying for the field; I wanted to be the person that allowed others to finally feel seen and heard. In my own therapy I learned that I see a lot of things from a different perspective than others, and that my depression and anxiety stemmed from the lack of connection I craved. When my therapist would tell me, "Can you give yourself permission to...?" I caught myself saying that to my own clients once internship year began (followed by an inner "dammit Michael!"). When my therapist and I discussed what it's like being queer person of color in the field, I found myself attracting gender and sexually expansive clients for my services, in addition to clients of color searching for their place in the world.


And the start of it all definitely wasn't easy. My internship was cut short due to COVID-19 making a sudden appearance, and I entered my first year doing therapy in a completely different world. I was the only Black therapist in my workplace for two years, along with being the only one without a doctorate. The country faced continuous turmoil as George Floyd among many other unharmed Black folks were unjustly killed, along with a casual insurrection in DC. My grandfather who was my entire life died, and I had constant thoughts of "What am I doing? Why am I doing this?"


Now I have my own practice, seeing the folx I want to see with concerns I'm passionate about. And on the days when imposter syndrome creeps in whispering doubts and insecurities I remind myself who I'm doing this for.


For the shy Black girls. The cute and depressed Black girls

For the geeks and nerds. The creatives and cosplayers.

For the spiritual girlies. The queer baddies.


I do it for those still trying to find themselves, trying to find others who fit into the life they want to cultivate. For the little girl who'd tap dance in her kitchen wondering who she'd become.


Because if there's someone out there wanting to be heard, I want to be there to listen.

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