A Black Therapist Shares How She is Helping Her Community Cope During COVID-19

“There are many ways of getting strong, sometimes talking is the best way.”
― Andre Agassi, Open
On March 01, 2020, Donald Trump declared a National State of Emergency as a result of COVID-19. In the weeks that followed, states began implementing strict lockdown and shelter-in-place mandates effective immediately.
As a country we are navigating this quarantine in various ways. Some of us are shopping obsessively on Amazon, others are spending free time working out, scheduling Zoom dates with friends, or baking banana bread. Yet as the weeks have turned into months, it is understandable that we may have feelings of anxiety, depression, and sadness.
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I had the pleasure of interviewing a fellow Fordham Alum (go Rams!), and Mental Health Therapist Asha Tarry. She speaks candidly on how she is supporting her community during this global health crisis.
ASHA BIO PIC

Can you tell me a bit about your mental health practice?

I am the founder and owner of Behavioral Health Consulting Services LMSW, PLLC in New York, NY. I have been a small business owner for 6 years and I work primarily with professional millennials in individual, group and couple’s therapy addressing stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, personality disorders and other mood disorders. My modality is Mindfulness-based CBT and eclectic psychodynamic, interpersonal therapy.

What influenced you to become a therapist and wellness coach?

Initially, I always thought I’d be a Nurse but after 2 years at Pace University in the nursing program I realized it was not for me. So I changed my major in my 3rd year of undergrad to Human Services and never looked back. Shortly after graduating with my Bachelor’s degree I was accepted to Fordham University School of Social Work where I proceeded to study and obtain my Masters degree in Social Work. I took a break from school after that but went back again to get a certificate in post-graduate studies to become an analyst. I thought I was done but I’ve since learned that I love education so I entered school once more in 2014 to become certified as a life and spiritual coach.

I think I just strive to be better all the time and want to give my present and future clients the highest quality care I can offer. I have always tried to be on the cutting edge of evidence-based work and empirical study. There’s so much to know and at the rate things change in science and human behavior one can never stop discovering new information and ways to help other people heal. I love that part about the  work I do.

What inspires you?

I’m quite inspired by seeing people transform themselves through self healing. I’m inspired by people being loving towards each other. I’m inspired by the beauty of God’s greatness manifested in the world. I’m inspired by art. I’m inspired by kindness, too.

 What clientele do you work with (adults, children, minorities, etc)?

Most of my work is centered on millennials and about 98% of my clientele are people of African descent (African-Americans, Latinx, Caribbean-Americans and 1st-generation Africans) and 2% of my clientele are Caucasian adults. All have a history of trauma.

How has your work been impacted by COVID-19?

My work has increased twofold. Before COVID-19 I was already at capacity with my work and that’s year-round. I’m fortunate to have that experience because typically therapists go through high and low seasons. Yet, my work has been consistent for 4 of the 6 years I’ve been in business. When COVID-19 began it increased the frequency of some of my client’s appointments as well as added some clients to my roster in those earlier times of day, where I normally would have openings for other things.
In addition to that, my media presence literally multiplied exponentially overnight. I have been featured in the media throughout the years because of the work that I do as a mental health advocate and practitioner, but since talking more often about trauma and grief on social media lately my email has been flooded with requests to talk about this subject in other places.

How do you practice self-care?

I practice radical self-care. I tell people what my boundaries are and then I enact them. Every week I turn away from my phones unless I know someone is dealing with something fragile in our work and could use assistance, and of course I will check my cell for crises, but nowadays I look at my phone a lot less on my days off. I also don’t take personal calls during my work week unless it’s urgent. I do a lot of diaphragmatic breathing, and other breathing techniques that aid in my immune health. I read a lot and I only spend time with people who I feel good around. I also generally ignore the news on replay and stay away from engaging in everyone else’s drama on and offline. Minding my business is a beautiful way of living a peaceful life! When we were able to travel I used to also hop on a plane every few weeks and work remotely in another city or country. That has been a sweet pleasure I deeply miss at times.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?

The most rewarding part of my work goes back to what I stated earlier and that’s seeing people transform through self-healing. For me, that is the most inspiring and loving thing anyone can do for themselves and subsequently, for their relationships and the world.

What advice would you give to those who may be struggling during this pandemic?

Be present as much as you can. This time will not last so honor the space you’re in, the health you have, the loved ones who are still here, let them know how you feel about them and work on the relationships and the goals you have that matter most to you. Don’t waste too much time wondering what’s going to happen. You miss out on too many things when you do that. Enjoy slowing down, get more rest and sleep because we will get back to life outside again one day. It won’t be what it used to be and for so many reasons that’s probably a good thing. At the same time, you want your body to not forget what it’s like to go outdoors and to be around others and to travel in open spaces. Like I’ve said in my work on social media, human beings are social but we have to practice those social skills. Otherwise we forget how to be decent human beings.

For inquires, please check out Asha at Life Coach Asha or contact directly at 1-800-334-1599.

 

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