Tell us about yourself. What is “Birthing The Gifts?”
Hello! Thank you so much for allowing me to be in this space with you! I identify as a Black Christian woman, born and raised in the southern part of the US (Arkansas). I have always had a passion for seeing people healthy, well, and whole in ALL aspects of their lives. This passion led to me obtaining a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with a specific concentration in children. God has allowed me to use this degree to provide therapy to youth with depression, anxiety, trauma exposure, behavioral difficulties, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I have also worked on an inpatient psychiatric unit, consulted with early childhood education settings, and conducted research. Most recently, I have launched a non-profit organization called Birthing the Gifts (BTG), Inc. (www.birthingthegifts.com). BTG promotes the social-emotional wellness of youth, young adults, and families while providing a safe and compassionate space to grow and develop their God-given gifts through educational retreats, resources, and community events. To God be the glory for being able to operate in my purpose!
What’s a common misunderstanding people have regarding mental health?
I have also had a long-time interest in raising awareness about emotional wellness and mental health. Sometimes I find that mental health is viewed as something only people with serious mental illness (e.g., Schizophrenia, severe Bipolar Disorder, complex trauma) have. However, this is simply not true! In the same way, we all have bodies that require us to be mindful of physical health. We have emotions and minds that require us ALL to be mindful of our emotional and mental health. It has been refreshing to see more openness to discussions of mental health in schools, faith communities, corporate settings, etc. Feeling safe and holistically healthy is critical to being able to learn, worship, and work optimally. This also applies to helping professionals, such as nurses, first responders, physicians, therapists, social workers, counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists. We cannot pour from empty vessels!! This might mean that we (as mental health providers and therapists) need to seek therapy when required as well! That is okay and encouraged!
How do you, as a therapist, stay balanced while hearing so much heartbreak and pain?
As mental health providers, we see lots of pain and suffering in individuals, families, and communities. This can be the most challenging part of being a therapist. It can be difficult to see the impact of trauma, adversity, and mental illness across generations and within communities. Sometimes we can give our all to provide coping tools, support, and resources and still bear witness to pain, struggle, and devastation. This can lead to hopelessness, emotional exhaustion, and burnout. Some also refer to this as secondary traumatic stress (STS;
https://www.nctsn.org/resources/secondary-traumatic-stress-fact-sheet-child-serving-professionals). To combat STS, I often remind myself of my purpose, passion, and the truth that God is with me in doing what He has called me to do! I also frequently consult with colleagues and connect with other supportive individuals in my life to maintain balance.
Why do you enjoy working with artists?
Finding healthy ways to express your emotions and thoughts, maintaining balance in life, and connecting with ALL of who you are and what matters most to you is critical to emotional and mental wellness. I have come across artists that do this well…expressing themselves through art and being creative and artistic gives them balance in life, and art can be an amazing way to connect with what matters to them. I enjoy working with artists because I have seen creative and diverse ways to heal, grow, and birth gifts! For example, I have seen artists work through murals, poetry, dance, song, sculptures, plays, drama, books, and many other creative expressions. These artistic expressions can 1) put language (verbal and nonverbal) to people’s emotional pain (which can be helpful in and of itself to alleviate pain and confusion), 2) help to soothe intense emotional and mental pain, 3) give healthier, more balanced ways of thinking about life situations, 4) give people “permission” to freely acknowledge, express, and name their feelings and thoughts (an essential aspect of emotion regulation), and 5) remind people that they are not alone.
As we ALL discover, cultivate, and manifest our gifts, people grow, transform, and heal! Please be encouraged to start developing your gifts, expressing your gifts, and sharing your gifts. Someone needs you and what you have to offer!!