Recently, I was featured as a guest on the radio show “A Moment with Diviin“, hosted by the lovely Diviin Javaan! Truly an honor and a privilege! Diviin’s show covers topics centered around spirituality, creativity and livelihood.
If you weren’t able to catch the live airing, no worries, Diviin recorded the episode and uploaded it to SoundCloud for our listening pleasure.
Keep reading for an outline of our hour-long convo, highlighting the various topics we discussed and more of my thoughts. I hope you find this interview informative and entertaining!
Do you have any new/current projects that you’re working on?
I’m a hustler, so I am always working on multiple projects. Currently I am transitioning into a new job. I’m going from a role in higher ed, as an academic adviser into home-based family therapy. My new position will include serving my hometown community, Pontiac! In addition to that job, I will continue facilitating court mandated group counseling sessions on the weekends. My website is also an ongoing project I have: I try to post 2-3x/month. I’ve also been working to promote my new whipped Body Butter by Maiya’s Naturals. Lastly, I am planning an upcoming wellness event that I am super excited about and will be announcing very soon!
Could you tell me more about your new job?
My new role will be providing home-based therapy to families. This is different than tradition counseling in a few ways that I am excited about. Tradition counseling is normally one-on-one and takes place in an office. However, I will be providing treatment in the client’s natural environment. I will also be working with members of the family individually as well as together. I find this extra level of interpersonal connection leads to greater rapport with my clients.
How did you get into counseling, was this always your path?
No, counseling was not always my path. I knew that a helping profession was my path, but I was not sure how. After finishing undergrad with two degrees: psychology and communication, I knew I needed to go back for higher degree if I wanted to get a “good job”. During my first real job, after college, I got to see hoe different degrees translated into different job duties. Seeing this, helped me learn the type of degree that I did not want. one of the last classes I took my senior year of college was a listening communication course, which helped me realize my passion for listening. Through research and discovery, I found that counseling was the perfect merge of helping people and listening for me.
What type of populations or clients do you work with?
So because I have different jobs, that service different populations, that will depend on job. When I am academic advising, my students are all college freshman. With this role, I oversaw our conditionally admitted or at-risk students. When working with court mandated clients, I predominately saw Black men. To be fair, this was mostly due to the charges that we services and the location. For example I facilitate men’s group for men convicted of charges like anger management, domestic violence and soliciting a prostitute. Due to the nature of these charges, I worked with mostly men. However with my new role, I will be largely working with families of color, being Black and Latinx.
How do you practice self-care?
Self-care is super important! I practice this by enforcing personal boundaries. One prime example of this is having designated time to turn my phone off. Sometimes, after talking and working with people all day long, I need some quiet alone time. To ensure that happens, I have automatic Do Not Disturb times set on my phone. This way, I am not bothered if people try to contact me. This is best for me, I protect my energy while also ensuring I’m giving people my best self. Without this boundary, people might call me with pure intentions, but end up getting on my last nerves because of their timing. It is also important that I am taking care of myself; resting and eating properly are as important to my self-care routine as getting my nails done or traveling.
What’s a good way for counselors, specifically, to take care of themselves?
Counseling. Counselors need counseling, too. Finding mentors and supervisors along my journey have turned out to be some of the most impactful relationships I have. I think it’s important to point out the differences between a mentor and a supervisor. In my opinion, a supervisor is someone you can go to for guidance regarding your professional activity and conduct. On the other hand, a mentor is someone who can help you navigate more personal endeavors. I cannot begin to put words to the value they bring into my life personally and professionally.
Let’s talk about the importance of mentorship and having people that know things you don’t know.
Building community is super important. I speak on this often. When you are going through things, especially new things, you need social support. Google is a great resource, but sometimes you want to hear it from someone firsthand. Having a like-minded person to understand your perspective and offer another is imperative to any journey and it’s growth. It can be discouraging if you do not have someone to mentor you or share your journey with. If that is the case, I encourage you to start creating your community. Reach out to like minded people. One of my closest mentors, I met by introducing myself after their presentation. Shoot your shot! People love to talk about themselves and their experiences, I’m sure that person would love to share with you.
What’s the most fulfilling part about your job?
I would say (one of the most) fulfilling parts is witnessing client growth or change. Or when a client shares that they have learned something from our time or sharing a moment of realization that they’re having. I am extremely humbled that people allow me to be their counselor: this is a very intimate situation for people to begin with. In addition to this. I find it extra special to witness their growth or their “aha moment”.
What is the most challenging part about your job?
I’m going through this right now actually. For me the hardest part is saying goodbye. It is always tough when transitioning a child or student to the next level. It is a very bittersweet moment and I have to remind myself that it is an honor to be releasing the client. From the beginning, the end goals is always to release the client- to equip them with the necessary tools to navigate their life. During this time I feel so happy for the client and proud of their growth and accomplishments. It is truly an honor to release them. I remind myself that this is a time for celebration, not to be sad.
What is your goal in a counseling session? Is it to reach catharsis?
Catharsis is a moment of clarity that one comes to, often a profound realization of self or life that holds greater meaning. My goal always depends on the client and what they’re working on. I think it would be very selfish of me to place my desire for the client, ahead of what they desire for themselves. Every client won’t have an “aha” moment. Maybe the client I’m working with is looking to come to terms with a difficult situation in life, like losing their job for example. In that moment, I am only concerned with helping that client cope and move forward with their goals. That client, is likely not thinking about reaching catharsis, their focus is likely to be on sustaining themselves and their family. I find it imperative to meet clients where they are. Change is a process and a journey. I never want to rush my clients through those stages or impose my beliefs upon them. It is important to match my goal to theirs.
Would you describe that as cognitive dissonance, having boundaries or being a guide?
Not so much cognitive dissonance, I think it is more so me knowing when to expect what from my clients. I think as a professional it is key to identify where people are during their growth or change process. Understanding their are stages of change, growth, development. Being present and patient for the client’s process is key. I think it is just as important to be there during the developing stages, as it is for me to be present for the client’s catharsis or moments of realization…which may or may not come for some people.
What do you want people to know about counseling? What is the takeaway?
Counseling is for everyone! I mean that literally. I don’t think any lifetime exists that does not need counseling or therapeutic release. Everyone at some point needs mental assistance. We get physical checkups, we also need mental ones. We excuse other types of therapy: retail therapy or excessive eating. Like I’ve said before, “Nobody is without needing mental support. It’s okay to seek help.”
One of your goals is also to decrease the stigma of counseling…
Yes, that is definitely a major goal of mine. Counseling is not always for something super serious or life impairing. I think people assume counseling is only for people hearing voices and that is totally not true. Can be to get an objective perspective on things to help you see clearer.
How important do you think it is for somebody to help some else that looks like them?
Very. We know that representation matters. Working with people of color is certainly a passion of mine because often we do not see people that look like us, coming back into our communities to help. Cultural differences are a nuance that can be misinterpreted by people outside of your race. Especially in today’s society when culture and race are such hot topics, it is important to see more people that represent you to decrease such misunderstandings. We cannot assume that everyone has our best interest, especially after years of misdiagnosing and client abuse within the mental health field. Things like that have lead to severe mistrust of mental health practitioners, so I find it imperative for people that look like you, to create safe spaces. I think it’s important for young people of color to see me in my community actively helping and breaking the stigma. I want to show people the value of counseling and community. Counseling inspires growth and provides options you had not considered. I want to make it normal to talk to people, to seek help and to get objective opinions on ourselves.
Can you say everybody needs therapy or is therapy for everyone?
Both. Therapy is for everyone. I think there are various types of therapeutic relief, coping mechanism such as retail therapy or emotional eating that people commonly practice. Yet somehow talk therapy has gotten a bad name. There are plenty of times during your life that you will need assistance with your mental health. Doing so would assist with coping, life habits, interpersonal skills. You can benefit for counseling, period.
Every counselor might not be the right fit
Absolutely. Studies have shown that the rapport you have with your counselor is the biggest determinant in successful client outcomes. Like finding a good pair of shoes, you may have to try a few and see how they work for you. If you can’t find someone that looks like you, look for similar beliefs, gender, religion, orientation, etc. Try different people until you find the right one and do not be afraid to ask for referrals. Don’t give up.
Let’s talk spirit. Do you have a spiritual philosophy or a spiritual walk?
Not specifically. Right now I am really focused on learning more about different things. Last summer I went on a week long Buddhist meditation retreat, which changed my life. Recently I’ve been reading about Afrikan spirituality. I’m very attracted to learning new things right now.
May I ask, have you been looking into Yoruba or Ifa?
Yeah, so I’m actually reading about them now. Those are the main African religions that I’m studying. Since I’m new to this I’ve been learning about the different Orishas, traditions, practices, and spending a lot of time with the translation of words. Gaining familiarity is really important to me before I make any commitments.
Do you have people to talk to…so you’re not feeling crazy or alone?
That’s what I’m working on now. I have found a few people that practice, that I would feel asking questions. I haven’t done so yet our of respect and partial fear. I know that it is super important to create community, especially with religious practices. But it is also important for me to come correct and not speak incorrectly or out of turn. So currently I have been learning as much as possible so that I can be prepared to talk to others about the things I have learned and understood.
Did you grow up with a spiritual practice?
Yes. Grew up in a very religious, “non-denominational” Christian household. We were always at church because my parents held leadership roles and took on a lot of extra responsibilities. We would be at church for hours on Sundays to attend two services, then we would be back 1-2x during the week for Bible study, then the weekends my mom would help prepare communion or would be preparing for their monthly turn to teach the Children’s Church, not to mention my dad also driving the church bus every month or me having various rehearsals for dance or choir. To be honest, it was pretty intense, and I did not have much free time for outside activities or even friends.
What made you think that walk wasn’t for you?
For me, church was not just church or religious, it was also a sense of community. I think that shift started when I felt that sense of community begin to change, or when it started to feel less authentic. The final piece for me was when doctrines started changing; no longer taking communion or baptism being taken away. Very fundamental pieces of the doctrine started to be changed, I started having questions that were unanswered. Unanswered questions led me to begin seeking things on my own.
Would you consider yourself a seeker?
Absolutely. I don;t ever think I want to ever be at a place where I feel I have or know everything. I am always looking to learn. Always looking to grow. I am constantly saying “progress, not perfection”, that is something that I live by.
Are there any particular Orishas that speak to you?
Right now I am really cultivating my relationship with Oshun. Just trying to learn more about her. Prior to beginning my exploration of Afrikan spirituality and religion, people would tell me things like “You give me strong Oshun vibes”. This was before I even knew who Oshun was. Once I found out about Orishas, I was immediately drawn to Oshun. She has similar qualities to the Hindu goddess Lakshmi. I find that lots of ancient religions have parallels or strains of truth. A lot of them focus on things like universal knowledge or strengthening our bond with creator and community/universal consciousness.
I think a big thing that has happened since Law of Attraction is that people are starting to think of God as a genie
You have to put work behind your words, if not you are just wishing for something to happen and practicing indecision towards the outcome. If there is no action with your intent then spirit cannot manifest things (or your desires) in this realm. Learn more about scripting, manifestation and the Law of Attraction from my previous post, Scripting!
What do you do creatively?
I would consider writing for my website a creative expression, because I really just share whatever is on my heart. Writing poems or stories are also creative outlets for me. I would definitely say cooking; trying new recipes or foods. I’m not a top chef by any means but cooking is creative for me! When I cook, I literally create something new from scratch and that is really rewarding. After I moved out on my own a couple of years ago and started to completely change my diet I realized how much of a craft and art cooking really is.
What type of poetry and songs do you write?
My favorite type of poems to write are Haikus. That might sounds really cheesy or like elementary, but to me it’s like mental olympics to break down an entire thought into like three lines. The time and effort that goes into picking my words carefully and choosing only the most meaningful things to represent my thought is my favorite challenge in writing.
I hope you all enjoyed my conversation with Diviine and endless thanks to her for sharing her platform with me. Leave me your thoughts, comment and questions below in the comments.