Are you seeking to deepen your understanding and connection with true anti-racism work in your practice? Is there a non-judgmental space where you can go to learn and do anti-racism work within yourself? Is there training out there with accountability tied in to encourage you to really do the deeper work?
In this therapist podcast episode takeover, LaToya Smith speaks with Shawna Murray Browne about reclaiming healing space.
Meet Shawna Murray Browne
Shawna Murray-Browne, LCSW-C is an award-winning community healer, national speaker, and Liberation-Focused, Mind-Body Medicine Practitioner. She is the Founder and Executive Director of Kindred Community Healing and the Principal Consultant at Kindred Wellness LLC. Trained as an integrative psychotherapist, Shawna has created life-changing, community-based sacred spaces, honoring culture, to equip Black women, youth, and change-makers with the tools to heal themselves.
A fierce advocate for racial equity in mental health care, Shawna guides professionals and organizations in nourishing a culture of mindfulness, anti-racism, and impact. Intuitive, authentic, and high energy, she is committed to helping the community reclaim collective wisdom to triumph the effects of historic and present-day trauma. Shawna was named by The Huffington Post as one of the “Ten Black Female Therapists You Should Know,” featured on a segment of Good Morning Washington, and was a two-time guest on the popular, Therapy for Black Girls podcast.
Shawna is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of Maryland, Baltimore where she earned her Masters in Social Work. She gained her Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Family Science from the University of Maryland, College Park. Dedicated to continued growth, her practice in QiGong, African spiritual traditions, and sitting at the feet of elders maintain.
She lives in Baltimore with her husband and her three-year-old daughter.
In This Podcast
- Remembering to reclaim
- Decolonizing therapy
Remembering to reclaim
Generational trauma comes in waves with each new family member born, and in order to heal and repair the trauma, one needs to go back to where it came from. Through tracing lineage, both culturally and historically, you are able to remember those who survived before you and the ways that they survived, and so reclaim the healing where needed.
I know we had healer ways because there is no way we could have gotten through all of the hardship. So for me, it’s been sort of reilluminating that, studying that, contending with that, identifying who are the folks who have been able to preserve that in their lineage. So, when I’m talking about remembering, I’m talking about however far we need to go to specifically on this land, how can we reclaim those healing ways. (Shawna Murray Browne)
This can be embracing cultures, foods, gatherings: these are things you can “remember” to reclaim to encourage a healing space where you can connect with the survivors before you.
This is the center of the merging of multidimensional healing; merging traditional healing systems, evaluating and utilizing the scholarship of black mental health supervisors, and understanding the historical nature of healing systems.
Through her webinar and teaching, Shawna offers information for therapists and practitioners on how to learn how to assist black people effectively and genuinely in dealing with race-based trauma.
You’re looking at yourself right and you’re applying these concepts to yourself and your practice, your life, your frameworks, your worldview and you’re getting coached, not by me, but by two other folks that are well-versed in what it means to sort of unhook from the system so that you can drop down into your own healing. (Shawna Murray Browne)
- LaToya Smith Podcast Takeover “Trauma Ninja” with Carynne Williams | PoP 514
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Meet LaToya Smith
LaToya is a consultant with Practice of the Practice and the owner of LCS Counseling and Consulting Agency in Fortworth Texas. She firmly believes that people don’t have to remain stuck in their pain or the place they became wounded. In addition to this, LaToya encourages her clients to be active in their treatment and work towards their desired outcome.
She has also launched Strong Witness which is a platform designed to connect, transform, and heal communities through the power of storytelling.
Thanks For Listening!
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Issues of diversity, inclusion and anti-racism can be heavy and difficult to work through on your own. Would you like support on how to add diversity, be more inclusive or maybe begin to do anti-racism work within your practice? I’d love to connect with you for one-to-one consulting or consulting services for your group practice or organization. So head on over to www.practiceofthepractice.com/apply and schedule a free consultation with me. Again, www.practiceofthepractice.com/apply and click on a free consultation with me, LaToya Smith, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing from you.
This is the Practice of the Practice podcast takeover episode with LaToya Smith, session number 515.
Welcome to the Practice of the Practice takeover with LaToya Smith. Today’s guest I have is Shawna Murray-Browne. She’s a licensed social worker and an award-winning community healer, national speaker and liberation-focused mind body medicine practitioner. She’s the founder and executive director of Kindred Community Healing, and the principal consultant at Kindred Wellness LLC. She’s trained as an integrative psychotherapist, and Shawna has created life-changing community based sacred spaces honoring culture to equip black women, youth and changemakers with the tools to heal themselves. So Shawna, thank you so much for joining me on this podcast.[SHAWNA]:
Thanks for having me, LaToya. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, I’m excited to have you on and I’ve seen you on social media. I heard you on a different podcast. And I was like, man, I really want to connect with you and the work that you do. So I feel honored that you were like, yeah, let’s do this, that you agreed to do the podcast with me. So I appreciate it. [SHAWNA]:
I mean, I’m always here for having like, regular conversations about our work, right. Like, it’s not enough of these opportunities, especially now. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, that’s a good point. Yeah, about regular conversations about the strong work that we do. And, like I was sharing before we hit record I’ve been, you know, doing a 10 part podcast takeover that Joe allowed me to do on here about diversity, inclusion and anti-racism. So you know, I’m just, I’m just excited about it. And there’s a lot of people doing a lot of great work. And I want to use this platform to help people hear more about it. So tell us about your practice in Baltimore. [SHAWNA]:
Let’s see, where to begin. So when I decided that I was going to be a social worker, I had no idea that I was actually going to open a private practice. Really, it was through my experience, first in working in child welfare and sex abuse investigations, and later, in family preservation around foster care that I realized that I was spending too much time in the family’s houses, you know, I’m trying to do vision boards, I’m trying, well, I connect them to all of these different services, and I identified that there were many gaps. And so after journeying through in residential treatment, and working in juvenile detention spaces, and also working as a clinical social worker and community organizer at public schools here in the city of Baltimore, I decided that I was going to expand the already established community-based work I was doing in the city.
So I started a girls program called Sista SoulQuest that holds healing space for girls of African descent, in elementary, middle and high. And it’s really about helping young girls learn and remember how to heal themselves, as opposed to just learning some of these sort of one off skills. And what the girls said to me then was Miss Shawna, this is real, I know this ain’t therapy. I know you said you’re not my therapist. But this is real therapeutic, and my mama need this, right? And so I was like, you know, let me listen to the babies and expanded my programming to work with black women. And that was the HealASista Project. And I was running these programs while I was working in a larger organization. And so you know, once I got really overwhelmed, and sort of frustrated with the established apparatus around mental healthcare and the way that the systems were serving or underserving black folks, specifically in Baltimore, I went ahead with the support of one of my mentors, and established my own private practice. And it was really like a merge of both my community, my grassroots level programming, and my integrative psychotherapy work in my private practice.[LATOYA]:
Yeah. And that’s dope. I like what you’re saying, because that’s, uh, I think for a lot of people, and again, I know that we were just chatting and I’m, you know, I’m from South Jersey, so I did a lot of intensive in-home work in like Camden and the Philly areas. And sometimes, when you get in that community work, it’s a lot, and you see a lot, and it’s heavy. And there’s a great need, but like we talked about is these established systems, there’s only so much you can do. And it’s so much red tape. And, you know, I mean, there’s way more need than what the system will allow us to do in those situations. But I love the idea that you started, even when you saw the issues, but you still stepped outside of the box and you started, you met the need, where they were at, like holding space for the young girls and the girls telling you listen, you know, our moms need this, and you started another program. So you have this in you to create, and really hear like, you know, boots on ground and hear the needs of the community. [SHAWNA]:
I mean, you know, I don’t know how many people are going to be listening [unclear]. But you know, like, this is like the fabric of a social worker, like social work was not the original social work when you learned the history of social work. It wasn’t so clinical in the beginning, even though I do think that our true work really has always emerged. But no doubt, I absolutely was like I’m gonna listen to the people. And and and I have to say, LaToya, not just working in Baltimore but growing up in Baltimore, I have in my own experiences, I came with my own lived experience about what was going to be helpful for folks in my community. And so when you have a heart in community, and you see that the systems aren’t really built for whatever it is they’re asking for, I feel like we do a disservice when we decide to sort of try to drown it out. [LATOYA]:
Right. I got you. So you knew what the community needed from being on the same street, but also working with the people. [SHAWNA]:
And then you created various programs. So let’s just jump into what you do now. Do you still do the healing circle, I mean, the group for the young girls and the parents or more just your practice? [SHAWNA]:
When the pandemic hit, it sort of threw a wrench, and like in school programming, right, and didn’t really have the infrastructure to be able to continue to do it at the depth and intensity. But I still hold healing spaces generally in community. The other program that sort of came about was Healing BMore Activists and that was also again, from activists, changemakers, advocates, folks doing work before the uprising in the city of Baltimore, and just sort of amplifying it, folks asking me to hold space for them. And so those programs sort of set the stage for everything. [LATOYA]:
Yeah. And it sounds like I mean, we know in general, as therapists, there is a whole lot of healing to go around. And even when it comes to inner cities, and the concerns in Baltimore, I mean, do you feel like it’s city to city, every urban area is the same? Like could they, you know, with the things that you’re doing, that therapist can get out there and have these spaces in these circles? [SHAWNA]:
I do feel like it is imperative for folks to get off the couch in order to do any substantive work for the wider community at large. I think that every city has its personality it’s histories. And you have to really get to know the people and what’s important to them. Yes. So I wouldn’t say that’s the same, but I do think that there are some major components cross-culturally, on what we’re talking about, like city environment that could support in being able to really ensure that we’re doing good. [LATOYA]:
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So um, Shawna, tell us, I know you mentioned that you’re from Baltimore. You grew up in Baltimore, like, what did you see as a child that, you know, how we hear people say, man, I want to give back what I needed as a child. So what do you see that these young people growing up in the streets of Baltimore need? Or, you know, teenagers, young adults? Like, what’s needed that wasn’t there for you? Or your peers or your family? Like, therapeutically? [SHAWNA]:
That’s a really good question, because that’s actually what informed my first program, right? Sista SoulQuest came out of what I wish I had. And so I grew up, my mom struggled, and struggles with addiction. And that runs through my family line, my lineage on both sides. And, and my father sort of experienced, you know, time in and out of jail. And so, when we say those things, you know, sort of flatly and so like, oh, alright, yeah, mm hmm. You know, but when, when you really start to get to the human experience, when I think about the experiences that my mother had, when I started to ask her questions around what she experienced as a child, you know, it was really, you know, connected to the societal disenfranchisement, it was connected to her mother’s addiction, and that was related to economic hardship. And so you know, all of the things that can go along with, I could talk about, you know, the atrocities that I’ve seen, of violence in the community, or my personal experience with homelessness, as well.
But the truth is that when I seek to honor the challenges that my mother and father endured, growing up black, in a system that has taught them to hate themselves, and it has impacted them, generationally, I really got to, I need us to remember how we heal ourselves, right. And if I had that, as a child, if my mother could tap into that, perhaps she might not have utilized drugs as a means to try to cope, right. And so when I was a child, I was angry. And my mother was a really dope mom when I was in elementary school and sort of drifted off into her addiction as we got older, right. And so I really wish that I had someone that was not trying to pathologize, right, because I was a straight A student. So no, I didn’t fit the boxes, um, you know, I, you know, good student or whatever. But there wasn’t a person who understood the complexities of my sadness, from a position of let me help you. Let me give you the tools so that you can cope with this and all the environments you’ll be in. And that, when I saw those same patterns, when I was working in child welfare, right, and when I sort of decided to go into private practice, that’s how I became more in tune with what they needed, by honoring their stories, but also tapping into what I remember.[LATOYA]:
Yeah, yeah. And so basically, like you said, the system wasn’t designed to help back in back in the day, and even now, and that’s why you create what you create. [SHAWNA]:
Not ever interested in eradicating, you know, or, you know, getting to the radical part, the root of the systems that are the problem, it was the system was created so that we could keep jobs, right? [LATOYA]:
Right. But something else you mentioned, too, like, I got so many questions. But something else you mentioned too, you know, you mentioned, like this generational like heartache, and this pain from your grandparent, to your mom. And even when you look at your mom and your dad, but then you also said like, listen, we need to remember how to heal ourselves. But some people, generations weren’t taught how to heal, just taught to get through, you know, I mean, the way the system was set up, it was kind of like, listen, just you gotta, you just gotta keep moving, or stuck in this place. [SHAWNA]:
But I think that depends on how far we go back. You know what I’m saying? So like, you know, if I go back, you know, maybe five generations, true, like, struggle, okay. Like we just gonna get through. But if we, for me, my work really grounds on this question, how have black folks historically healed ourselves, and we had to be doing something to still be in existence in present day. So, you know, I went first to, you know, all the way to the continent of Africa and explored that, but then when I decided to come to the history, specifically relevant for the United States of America and descendants of Africans enslaved here in the US is like, I know we had healing ways because there is no way we could have gotten through all of the hardship. And so for me, it’s been sort of re illuminating that. I’m studying that, contending with that. Identify who are the folks who have been able to preserve that in their lineage. And then and so when I’m talking about remembering, I’m talking about however far we need to go specifically on this land. How can we reclaim those healing ways? [LATOYA]:
Got it. That’s good. And I imagine a lot of that has to do, I hear you now. Like, it can be, you correct me if I’m wrong, like the church, it can be embracing cultures, and not switching up, it can be like with music, it can be food, right? And gathering. So that’s what you’re talking about. So reclaiming and remembering, whatever personal healing space you have, and embracing that, okay. [SHAWNA]:
Yeah. And when and when we go, when I began to ask those questions for me, it was, you know, a trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and you know, I was doing my, my lineage, my ancestral exploration, and I was like, alright, so I got I got people from the low country. [Unclear]. Okay, okay. Right. So how were we handling things? Oh, we were herbalists. Oh, we were gardeners. Oh, this is absolutely in the church. Right? And the church, there’s a reason why specifically for descendants of Africans enslaved in the US, if you compare a Baptist Church, a black Baptist Church to one that isn’t, there are some differences. And asking the question of what are those differences? And how can we amplify those? Absolutely. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, no, that’s, that’s good talk. So tell us about your program that you have, the decolonizing therapy, which I think is what we kind of walked right into. But yeah, explain that to the audience. [SHAWNA]:
So what happened was, people in my community would ask me if they could come to therapy with me. And I’d be like, no, you know, we can’t do that. Right. Like, they were like, I would go to therapy, Shawna, if I could see you, and I was like, well, that can’t happen, right? Like, that’s not what’s gonna work. And so initially, it became a, who is it that I can refer folks and community to where I know that they’re working from a grounded perspective that honors, not just being culturally humble, right, like, not just being culturally competent, but that knows how to honor our culture, and has a heart for and awareness of radical social justice, radical social change. And so with that in mind, remember earlier I mentioned Healing BMore Activists and that was healing spaces for activists, changemakers and advocates. Well, I started the training three years ago now, specifically to meet the needs of the activists, advocates and changemakers, the black ones here in the city. Like I was like, I need to train therapists so I have somebody to refer them to. That way, they not giving me the side eye in the community, when they come back and say, you know, this therapist was janky, not trying to [unclear] that.
So it started there. And then and so it really was just focusing on how I do therapy. And when I grounded in it was sort of like a merging of all of the things we’ve been talking about up to this point, right, traditional healing wisdoms of black folk, the scholarship of black mental health providers, psychologists, social workers, and the like, and understanding, a historical understanding of how our systems work. And so what it’s come to now has transformed over this pandemic, y’all. I thought all I wanted was another 25 people here in Maryland, to take the training. And I was like, you know what, what do people be doing is they do a webinar, let me do a webinar, so that you understand what I’m talking about. Because we online now, right? And I did the webinar, and that was viewed 10,000 times.[LATOYA]:
Whoa, slow down. You did a webinar. What was the name of the webinar? [SHAWNA]:
Six crucial steps to decolonize your therapy practice. [LATOYA]:
Whoo, we gotta put that in the show notes. Okay. [SHAWNA]:
So I launched the webinar, and when I offered the webinar, like I don’t know, I can’t, maybe like 3 to 400 people registered for that, and it was free, you know, drop in, right. But when I did that this was right, the same day that I was offering it or perhaps the day after, that is when George Floyd was murdered. And so, you know, everybody is not only stuck in the house for the pandemic, and then you know, we have this happen to this brother. And so everybody and their mother’s cousin’s sister was trying to watch this webinar. And the [unclear] webinar was to reintroduce but to whoever was watching decolonizing therapy for black folk, which, you know, I decided I was gonna, I did it initially live, virtually over a four day weekend, it was an intensive 16 hour training.
And now it functions as a semi-structured, self-paced virtual learning journey, where you go through eight modules that start with the colonial foundation of the mental health system, journeys into how we come to our perspectives and understandings of gender, and sexuality and how that is connected to imperialistic interests from human service perspectives, and takes folks all the way through what have folks been, what have black folk, black scholars been saying about how we address race based trauma, and heal, heal, help to heal black folks. And it ends with an introduction to a framework that I created called The Liberation focused Healing Framework, as a concrete method methodology to utilize alongside any theory, any modality that you’ve been trained in, but it supports you in and really grounding. How do we start to contend with these concepts of freedom and liberation, specifically for black folks? And how, is this the same or different, or is the global majority recognizing no, we are not monolithic?[LATOYA]:
Ooh, this is good. This is on your website. I saw that. [SHAWNA]:
Okay. Yeah. Okay, got it. Okay, so that’s what it was. So you’re telling me, so right before George Floyd’s murder, right after you’re going to do that? Wait, you’re gonna do this around that time? [SHAWNA]:
I was gonna do it anyway. I was dragging me cuz, you know, I was scared cuz, you know, online. I’m not with this whole technology thing. At least I wasn’t [unclear]. Right. I was gonna do it anyway. And I just was like, if I can get 25 to 50 folks to take this training. [LATOYA]:
Well, you got them. You got them. [SHAWNA]:
The first time I did it. I had to stop the training. I mean, I had to stop registration, because I was just, like, whoa, whoa, I’m gonna just do 100, let’s just do 100. And so then we had, you know, 700 people on a waitlist. And so then another 120 went through and then we did, I’m doing it one more time in 2021 and then we gonna take a break. [LATOYA]:
And you, um, it was just therapists, or it’s anybody that’s on here? [SHAWNA]:
So I was targeting therapists, mental health providers of all walks, but I didn’t turn anyone away. So we’ve had elders that have been grassroot leaders take this training. We’ve had life coaches take this training. We’ve also had yoga therapists take this training, but by and large, the predominant population are psychologists, psychiatrists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, this is awesome. And tell us about the liberation focus healing framework, like specifically. [SHAWNA]:
Essentially, I take the teachings from African American scholars, I’m informed by liberation psychology of Martin-Baro, who curated the concept of liberation psychology, and amplified some of the wisdoms from the African American, original African American spiritual traditions of hoodoo and conjure and took that, juxtaposed it with the knowledge that I’ve developed after holding healing space in community and from doing my consultation work. So my full-time time, actually now has been working with human service institutions, leading human service institutions around talking about anti racism. And so I’ve taken all of that information and concretized it in eight major tenets to amplify and I’m not going to tell you that because that’s what you got to take the training for. [LATOYA]:
You’re, like, yeah, but that’s it. [SHAWNA]:
But what I will say is that the intention is for everyone to leave with something concrete. I think that oftentimes when we’re talking about what it means to decolonize, first of all, you know, oftentimes we get, and my webinar talks about this, too often we sort of get disillusioned with these words, we get this word salad, this word soup, you know, we just start throwing out words like anti-racism, like diversity, equity, inclusion, without actually knowing and understanding the weight of it. And what the peoples who curated these terms, what it means and how it impacts actual lives. And so it was really important to me that whenever I have the honor of holding space for anyone be it a fellow practitioner, or a mama, or a trans person, or an executive director, that I’m providing folks with tangible skills and how to do it. The best thing I think about the training, though, is really about what happens after that, and that you are, I call my training an invitation and an orientation. I consider that you know, 16-hour journey, a 101, right? Like that, it’s like cuz I’m spreading a whole lot of seeds, right? The point is, for us to be able to think critically for ourselves, and then get plugged in with the other people across the country that’s taking this training, that are applying it so that we can actually curate community. That’s really what it is, um, I’m trying to do out these parts. [LATOYA]:
I love that. Because really, even as you’re talking, I’m thinking about that, that phrase we always hear, okay, well, I’m gonna jack it up. But either you can complain about it, or you can be a part of the change. It sounds like you saw the problem. You saw when you were younger, you came up, you decide to be a social worker, and you did the work, you still see the problem. And you’re like, listen, I can, I can just be a part of the system, and just go through it. Or I can be intentional about being part of the change and you are extremely intentional. And this has just blown up. And it’s amazing. [SHAWNA]:
Blown up is for real. Okay [unclear]. All right. Will say, you know, technology has my back. But one of the things I do you want to note, though, that is important is that, like, not only did I see the problem, but I studied how have changemakers, how have the activists of our time, the original race workers in the United States, the abolitionists, how were they resolving these problems? Because, you know, there’s so much we can learn by honoring the wisdom they already curated. And then deepening our awareness, right, adding to the movement, and work going forward. [LATOYA]:
And is it like, is there a second part to the training, and you kind of alluded to it? [SHAWNA]:
There is. [LATOYA]:
Like, let me guess, let me guess, is it when people go back to their communities, like what happens then? Because you want them to go back and be change agents, but where’s the check in or the accountability or to link up? What did you say? [SHAWNA]:
I said, come on through, LaToya. [Unclear]. So there’s two tracks, right. Um, folks can after they do the training, folks can do a more intimate intensive with me, and they only get access to it if they’ve done the first training. And so right now, we have a cohort of 21. All practitioners in different ways, most of them therapists but a couple are administrators and a couple are private practice owners. And so it’s where we’re, you know, actually, like, you’re looking at yourself, right. And you’re applying these concepts to yourself, your practice, your life, your frameworks, your worldview, and you’re getting coached by not by me, but by two other folks that are well versed in what it means to sort of unhook from the system so that you can drop down into your own healing, because the truth is that, you know, therapists, we love to talk about other people’s problems. Sometimes we don’t even want to recognize that the reason why this concept of decolonization, or even if we’re just talking about, you know, social justice light, we talk about the early stages, and we start to talk about anti-racism and practice, right?
Folks are scared and uncomfortable because it is attached to our own experiences of collective trauma here in the United States of America. And if you are not being held by someone else that has been doing that work, and is not trying to be your therapist, but can connect you to one if you so need to, because we know therapists need to go to therapy too. But then we’re not doing our correct work. There’s no level of accountability.
So yeah, so the first part is there’s an intensive called A Therapy That Liberates Intensive where folks work with me for eight months, and we go deep, and they also get one to one coaching. And then the other track is really less intense. And it’s just on a monthly basis, we do study sessions. We have Book Clubs slash Film Club slash Journal Club, basically, you go read or watch something, and then we go have a talk back. Sometimes we have guest speakers. And we also have affinity groups, one for black folks, one for non black POC, and one for white folks within the group. So that over time, you know, as we are continuing with these topics, these topics of anti-capitalism, these topics around what unschooling is, what is the relationship between spirituality and mental illness? How do we know if somebody is hallucinating? Or if they’re talking to the ancestors? I don’t know. So we had to bring the folks in to be able to have these conversations, and we do it as a collective.[LATOYA]:
Yeah. And it sounds like you’re very, which is the decolonization, but very unapologetic in how you’re flowing with this. I know it’s yours, you can be how you want to be. But you’re, I love the idea that you’re like, listen, we’re here, and even when you broke down the Infinity Circle groups, black, you know, people of color, but you’re not gonna be in the black group. And then white therapists, like, you know, I mean, but so many times were lumped in. [SHAWNA]:
Yeah. So yeah, so the, okay, wait, I got like three things I gotta say. All right. So the first thing is that I listen to the people, right. So when I did it, the first when I did the first training, it was live. So folks were broken out in groups. I wasn’t too savvy with the Zoom life yet. I tried, though, I really tried. But I didn’t gather enough data to be able to set, I separate white folks from folks of color, bipoc, black indigenous people of color. But I didn’t gather enough data to be able to separate black folks from non black POC. And the non black POC were the ones that was like, Shawna, next time you do this, could you please separate us out because we got some stuff we need to talk about that may be anti black, and we don’t really want to harm the black folks. And the blacks musta been like, they don’t really get it, they [unclear]. Right. And so that, so first is the feedback from folks. Right? And, and I know this also, because this is also what pre COVID like this, this is what I was doing, right?
Um, I’m also a PhD student, which is not my favorite thing of my day to day life right now. But as a doctoral student, like I also am studying, right, like, what do we know works? What do we know doesn’t when we’re talking about the development of mental health practitioners, from counseling to social work, like what do we know about social work, education and counseling education? Like, we need to shift it? And then what was the third thing, ooh? Oh, there’s a cost to my being unapologetic, right? There’s a price that I pay. And that all of us when we, if we really are effective, you will know it because the systems around you will start to be like, well, I don’t know what you think you’re doing but like, you need to pump the brakes. And so without community, you’re actually setting yourself up for failure. And that’s why, you know, I feel like I would be working out of, it would be unethical for me to provide this information without providing also a space for folks to be held, and to journey and to struggle with it thereafter. Because the real work happens after.[LATOYA]:
Yeah, this is so, I’m like, in awe, and I’m thinking to myself, you know, I could have, I could have did the 10 part takeover with you and just broke down every 10 sessions asking you questions about like, in the podcast, you know, about the work that you’re doing, because this is like, this is amazing. And it’s exactly what I, you know, because going back to, even when I started counseling, like, okay, we talked about, like the inner cities. And you know, over the years, all the work I’ve done like, this is the stuff that touches black communities and black people can relate to, like you said, the young girl said back in the day, like, listen, my mom needs this. And they saw it because you’re speaking the language. You know, you get me, you understand, and this helps. And now this is where change is gonna happen. Because you feel accepted, you feel welcomed, you feel understood, I can let my guard down. And let’s do work. You know, maybe it’s not that easy, but it’s the blueprint. [SHAWNA]:
Yeah. I mean, connection is the blueprint, right? And so, the other reality is that, you know, it’s always going to be a struggle when you bring any group of folks of difference, especially in the United States, to talk about topics like race. Right, but we know we’re going deeper than race. We talking about colonialism. We talking about [unclear] colonialism, we talk about how we’re still on stolen land and what it means to say land back and what it means to be citing, what is it, Bronfenbrenner and Freud in the age of hashtag Black Lives Matter, like, what’s the relevance here? Yeah. And yeah, it’s heavy work, I be losing sleep over it, which is why I’m taking a break in 2021. But the work requires connectedness. And, you know, believe it or not, as therapists, we have the hardest time doing that because we’re so used to holding the mirror up for other people. Seldom is it that we do the work, where are we holding the mirror up to ourselves, and being held accountable in community.
Because the other thing is, folks take this training, and then only after folks complete a growth assessment after they complete the training, because this ain’t no [unclear] training, okay? You take a growth assessment, and that just lets me and a few of the other folks on my team know, to what extent do you understand it? Can you apply it? And then I’m establishing the directory. So this brings a full circle, right? Remember, I said, the reason why I did this in the beginning was so that I could with ease refer folks in community to people that I knew certain things, that I would never have to worry about somebody having a challenge in therapy and not having a place to go. Notice, I didn’t say they’re not gonna have a problem with therapy, because all of us mess up, right? All of us [unclear] therapy. And if you’re white, and you listening to this, you be messing up all the time. If you’re black and you listen to this, you be messing up all the time thinking that because I have this experience, and I’m you know, then I know, no, we still project, we still have these challenges. But we are not used to being held accountable in community. And that, and that’s for me, that’s for you, that’s for everybody. You need to have a space where you can go after you mess up in session, where you gonna be able to go and be able to tell the whole truth, not judgmentally, and still be able to get what you need to get, so that you can keep doing your healing through your life’s work. And so the person who you had an honor holding space for, or what we call clients, I’m putting them in air quotes, so that they can transform. If we don’t have accountability, then shame sets in. And we can harm people.[LATOYA]:
Whoa, this is good. Shawna, thank you so much. You dropped some bombs. This is good information. How can people find you, to look into the training, you know, I mean, the six crucial steps that you mentioned, how can they find you to look into the work to even try to catch you in 2022 after your break? Or later in 2021? You never know. [SHAWNA]:
Yeah, yeah. Um, so if you go to my website, it’s www.shawnamurraybrowne.com. Um, I post a lot on Instagram @HealASista. Yep, I know, I play with the letters. And, and I can give you the link, LaToya, for the webinar. It was once we got to over 10,000 folks, you know, I started asking folks to contribute to get access to the webinar. And all of those proceeds actually go to a scholarship to ensure that black practitioners getting access to this training to keep it accessible, because we know, I mean, I don’t know how many nerds we got listening here but an article just came out that’s talking specifically about how much more challenging it is for black practitioners, more specifically black social workers, how much more debt we graduate with, how much less we are paid, how much longer it takes for us to get our feet together. So, get our lives together from that financial hardships. So yeah, so most of the things when you go to my website, you’ll you can you know, you can get access to it by going to my shop. And you’ll see that there are t-shirts, there are books, there are guided meditations, and there are two webinars. And most of those proceeds go to support a black therapist in getting access to the training that really honors their humanity. [LATOYA]:
Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Shawna, I appreciate you being my guest, the final guests on this 10 part podcast takeover. [SHAWNA]:
Oh, final. [LATOYA]:
Yeah, this was awesome. I’m so glad that you answered the message I sent you through Instagram real random. I’m so glad that you answered it and said that you’d be willing to be a guest on here. So thank you so much for your time. [SHAWNA]:
Thank you, LaToya.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music; we really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.