Navigating Mental Health: Finding Culturally Competent Therapy for BIPOC in Brooklyn, NYC

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As we conclude Black History Month, it’s crucial to acknowledge the profound impact of historical and systemic traumas on the mental health of the Black community. This understanding must remain at the forefront of our minds throughout the year. Black History Month serves as a poignant reminder of the vital role culturally sensitive therapy plays in addressing the unique challenges faced by BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color) individuals.

Finding a culturally competent therapist in a diverse city like New York City, particularly in Brooklyn, can be daunting. Despite the city’s rich diversity, many BIPOC individuals struggle to find therapists who comprehend their cultural backgrounds and experiences. The lack of representation among mental health professionals, combined with systemic barriers to accessing care, often leaves BIPOC individuals feeling misunderstood and underserved. For a deeper exploration of the challenges BIPOC individuals face in navigating this issue, Dana Givens provides a first-hand account in her 2020 New York Times article.

What Is Culturally Competent Care and Why Is It Important?

So, what exactly is culturally competent care, and why is it crucial? Culturally competent care involves therapists possessing the knowledge, skills, and awareness to effectively engage with clients from various cultural backgrounds. It’s about recognizing and respecting the diverse cultural identities, experiences, and challenges of clients. This approach acknowledges the impact of systemic oppression, historical trauma, and societal disparities on clients’ mental health. Client-centered mental health is especially important when working with marginalized populations.

9 Questions to Ask When Looking for the Right Therapist for BIPOC

Here are some examples of questions you can ask a therapist to test their knowledge of Culturally Competent Care and see if they are right for you:

  1. What does culturally competent care mean to you, and what training have you received in this area?

  2. Can you describe how you try to celebrate your patients’ identities during your work with them?

  3. Socially Locate – I’m part of the (name your community); it’s an important part of my identity. Are you familiar with this community?

  4. Ask for the therapist to socially locate.

  5. It will be important for me to feel comfortable discussing privilege, racism, discrimination, and/or systemic oppression. Is that something you’d welcome or have experience discussing?

  6. How does your racial/ethnic and cultural background influence your approach as a therapist?

  7. How do you support clients who have faced racism, discrimination, or immigration-related challenges?

  8. Ask the therapist about their experience working with BIPOC clients, their approach to culturally sensitive therapy, and their understanding of your specific cultural background.

  9. Consider Cultural Background: While it’s not mandatory, some individuals may prefer a therapist who shares their cultural background. Having a therapist who understands the nuances, traditions, and challenges specific to your cultural identity can foster a deeper sense of understanding and trust.

Questions to ask when searching for BIPOC therapist in Brooklyn, NY.

Cultural Representation Matters

Connecting with a therapist who shares your cultural background can greatly enhance your therapeutic journey. Their familiarity with your cultural nuances, traditions, and challenges offers a profound sense of validation and empowerment. This shared cultural experience lays a solid foundation of trust and rapport, ensuring you feel truly understood and valued during therapy sessions.

Moreover, a culturally congruent therapist is often better equipped to navigate conversations surrounding race and ethnicity. When reaching out to begin your therapeutic journey, especially within group practices during the intake process, it’s entirely acceptable to request a therapist who shares your cultural background.

Growing Need for Culturally Competent Therapy for BIPOC

While strides have been made, there remains a significant disparity in representation within the mental health field. In 2015, statistics showed that 86 percent of psychologists in the U.S. were white. However, there’s reason for optimism as 34 percent of early career psychologists now identify as racial or ethnic minorities, indicating a promising increase in diversity within the profession (source: APA Monitor).

In conclusion, as we reflect on the significance of Black History Month and its implications for mental health, it becomes evident that the need for culturally competent therapy for BIPOC individuals extends far beyond this designated month. The challenges of finding culturally sensitive therapy in a diverse city like New York, particularly in Brooklyn, underscore the ongoing need for increased representation and awareness within the mental health field.

By recognizing the importance of culturally competent care, we can begin to address the systemic barriers that leave BIPOC individuals feeling misunderstood and underserved. As we navigate the complexities of mental health care, it’s crucial to advocate for our own needs and seek out therapists who not only understand our cultural backgrounds but also prioritize our unique experiences and challenges. Through continued education, awareness, and advocacy, we can strive to create a more inclusive and empowering mental health environment for all individuals.

Our experienced therapists for BIPOC in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY, can help you navigate your unique journey in a safe, non judgemental space. Contact us today and learn about our affordable rate options.

New Year’s Resolutions to Change Your Family

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As the new year unfolds, there’s a collective sense of enthusiasm to dive into those New Year’s resolutions. While certain goals are inherently personal, some become more achievable when embraced as family resolutions. Whether aiming to shed a few pounds, unearth unique creative talents, or simply prioritize getting more rest, there’s a special synergy when families join forces in pursuit of common objectives. 

Collaborative efforts foster a supportive environment where accountability and connection thrive, significantly enhancing the likelihood of sustained changes. Surprisingly, statistics indicate that merely 9% of Americans manage to uphold their New Year’s resolutions. To kick off the year on a positive note, here are 10 resolutions tailor-made for you and your family to wholeheartedly commit to.

10 family resolutions to inspire positive change

10 New Year's Resolutions to change your family.

1. Go to Bed at the Same Time

We all know the struggle – who wouldn’t welcome a bit more shut-eye? It’s not just a luxury; it’s a vital ingredient for both kids and adults to tackle the demands of our daily routines. Typically, bedtimes are seen as more of a loose suggestion for grown-ups and a strict rule for the little ones. But what if we turn the tables a bit? 

How about making it a family affair – a universal lights-out time for everyone. Imagine the tranquility and the potential for some additional precious Z’s. Making this a fresh addition to your family New Year’s resolutions might just be the game-changer in promoting overall well-being.

Why not give it a whirl for a week and experience the rejuvenating effects of a collective lights-out commitment? It could be the start of a sleep revolution in your household, with everyone reaping the benefits of those extra hours of rest. 

2. Create and Eat Meals Together

Whether you’re a parent to little ones or teens, nurturing the practice of both planning and enjoying meals together can strengthen the ties within your family. Take a hiatus from the screens – power down the TV and let the phones take a break on their chargers. This presents a wonderful chance to relish each other’s company while collaboratively orchestrating meals with this family resolution. 

In the kitchen, foster a sense of autonomy for children as they contribute ideas and take part in the decision-making process. This transforms the family kitchen into a vibrant center of connection, where you not only share the satisfaction of the final dish but also revel in the joy of co-creating as a family. These moments underscore that in the realm of culinary creation, the best company is undoubtedly family.

3. Replace Soda with Water

Too much soda is bad for everyone, especially children. Not only is it bad for your health, it can put a serious dent in your grocery bill if you’re buying it every week. Swapping out soda for water can help change family habits while you save dollars and calories. If you’re still craving that carbonated goodness, try plain soda water instead. It has zero sugar and zero calories. It’s all the fun of bubbles without the guilt of sugar.

4. Schedule Reading Time

Family reading time is a treasure trove of joys and benefits that extend far beyond the pages of a book. It’s a magical journey where imaginations come alive, weaving stories that captivate both young and old. Beyond the pure pleasure of a good story, this shared activity serves as a powerful educational tool, expanding vocabularies, fostering comprehension skills, and nurturing a love for learning.

As family members immerse themselves in different worlds through literature, they acquire essential life skills such as empathy, critical thinking, and communication. The bonds formed during these reading sessions create a unique connection, a shared experience that lingers in the hearts of each family member. In the realm of family reading, the simple act of turning pages becomes a gateway to a world of joys, education, life skills, and a lasting familial connection. 

5. Exercise Together

Embracing family exercise behaviors not only promotes physical health but also cultivates a holistic well-being that extends to the realms of mental, physical, and spiritual health. Engaging in physical activities together fosters a sense of connection among family members, creating shared experiences that strengthen bonds and build a supportive environment. As the family collectively prioritizes exercise, mental health reaps the rewards, with reduced stress, increased mood, and enhanced cognitive function becoming tangible benefits. 

From a physical perspective, regular exercise contributes to improved cardiovascular health, strength, and overall vitality for each family member. Moreover, the spiritual dimension is nurtured as the family embraces the natural surroundings during outdoor activities, fostering a sense of unity with nature. Through the harmonious integration of connection and physical activity, family exercise behaviors become a catalyst for the holistic growth of mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.

6. Practice Gratitude

An excellent method to foster connection and transform family narratives is by incorporating gratitude perspectives into the family story as part of your family resolutions. In one of our earlier blog posts, we explored ways in which families can enhance gratitude and strengthen their bonds by adopting the habit of acknowledging three moments of beauty each day. Whether through a text in the moment or as part of your nightly routine, initiating a practice of sharing beautiful moments from each day can profoundly impact and change family perspectives. Consider making this a part of your family new year’s resolutions to further enhance the positive changes within your familial relationships.

7. Change Family Relationship to Mindfulness

To change family mindfulness habits, it will involve a collective commitment to fostering awareness and presence in everyday life. Begin by introducing simple yet impactful practices that encourage mindful living. Incorporate moments of shared reflection, such as daily gratitude exercises or mindfulness exercises, into your routine. Create a dedicated space in your home for meditation or quiet contemplation, providing family members with a peaceful retreat for self-awareness. 

Encourage open communication about the benefits of mindfulness and its positive effects on mental well-being. Consider engaging in mindful activities together, such as nature walks, deep-breathing exercises, or mindful eating during family meals. By collectively embracing mindfulness as a family value and integrating mindful practices into daily life, you can instill a sense of calm, presence, and connectedness within the family unit. Check out for even more ideas of how to strengthen your family’s new year’s mindfulness resolutions.

8. Increase Family Time

Establishing dedicated family time, be it an afternoon or evening each week, as a family resolution, has the power to create enduring memories. Whether you choose to indulge in a movie night, order take-out, engage in a lively game night, or embark on a weekly family bike ride, the essence lies in designating at least one day a week for shared togetherness. Utilize this time to unwind and engage in meaningful conversations with one another. You might uncover surprising aspects about your kids during these special moments or witness the deepening of familial connections. 

Additionally, consider incorporating various activities into your designated family time, such as attending community events like concerts or local festivals, making rainy or snowy days special with indoor activities, or prioritizing family meals, even if it’s just once or twice a week, as research consistently highlights the positive impact of shared meals on children. For more information and in-depth ideas on increasing family time, check out this excellent article by VeryWell Family.

9. Strengthen Life Skills Together

Growing as a family is all about picking up some key skills along the way. Think of it like this: getting the hang of Focus and Emotion Regulation helps everyone in the family tackle challenges with a mix of resilience and growth. Perspective-Taking is like putting on someone else’s shoes, it builds empathy and makes your family connections stronger. And hey, Effective Communication is like the glue that holds everything together, making sure everyone gets each other. 

Making Connections is about more than just small talk; it’s building a solid, supportive network within your own crew. Critical Thinking is like your family’s superhero power for making smart decisions and solving problems. When you tackle Challenges together, it’s like a team-building exercise, leaving everyone with a feeling of shared success. Oh, and don’t forget about embracing Self-Directed, Engaged Learning – it’s like a family quest for knowledge and skills. So, as a family, when you make these skills a priority, you’re not just growing individually; you’re building up your unity, resilience, and the power to succeed together. To learn more about these skills and more, visit this wonderful article from Bright Horizons

10. Journal To Keep Track of Family Change

Embarking on the journey of keeping a family journal is a beautiful and bonding activity that serves as more than just a record—it becomes a living testament to the growth and changes within your family. Designating a regular time for your family to gather and share their weekly experiences creates a shared narrative, capturing the moments that make your individual and collective lives special. This journal not only acts as a record of memories but also fosters a deeper connection among family members. It becomes a cherished space where stories unfold, creating a rich tapestry of the unique and wonderful things that shape your family’s journey together. 

Bringing It All Together as a Family in the New Year

As we step into the new year, the prospect of family change and growth becomes a shared adventure. The journey towards fulfilling New Year’s resolutions takes on a special meaning when approached collectively as Family Resolutions. From establishing healthy habits like going to bed at the same time and eating meals together to fostering mindfulness and strengthening life skills, each resolution becomes a thread in the fabric of family well-being. 

The statistics remind us that only a small percentage of individuals manage to keep their resolutions, but as a united front, families can enhance their accountability and connection, increasing the likelihood of success. Beyond individual goals, dedicating time for shared experiences, such as family activities and dedicated family time, creates enduring memories and deepens familial bonds. 

The practice of journaling emerges as a powerful tool, not just to keep track of changes but to weave a living narrative of the unique and wonderful moments that shape the family’s collective journey. 

For additional support and guidance in navigating these resolutions, consider reaching out to North Brooklyn Marriage & Family Therapy for family sessions. Their expertise can provide valuable insights and strategies to help families stay committed to their goals and foster growth throughout the year. Embracing these resolutions collectively, with the assistance of professional support, families pave the way for a year filled with growth, connection, and shared success.

Giving Thanks: November Gratitude Lists with a Twist!

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In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, especially as we walk into this season of holidays, it’s all too easy to overlook the simple, yet profound, beauty that surrounds us. In our fast-paced world, we often focus on what’s wrong, what’s missing, and what we wish we had. But what if we made a conscious, intentional effort to shift our perspective and train our minds to see the beauty in the everyday? In this blog, we’ll explore how writing a daily list of three things you find beautiful can enhance your perception of gratitude and strengthen your connections with friends, family, and loved ones.

The Beauty of Three

Why three, you might wonder? The number three holds a special place in our cognitive processes. It’s a manageable number, easy to remember, and just enough to encourage thoughtful reflection without overwhelming us. By choosing to identify three beautiful things in your day, you are setting a manageable and realistic goal, which can be incredibly motivating.

Cultivating Gratitude through Observation & Perspective

The act of intentionally seeking out beauty in your daily life can significantly boost your sense of gratitude. Gratitude is a powerful emotion, linked to increased happiness, improved mental health, and even physical well-being. When we consciously look for beauty, we start to notice it more often, and this heightened awareness can shift our perspective.

Imagine you’re sitting in a park, and you notice a colorful butterfly fluttering by. You can take a moment to appreciate its intricate patterns and delicate wings. That’s one beautiful thing right there. Or perhaps you’re sipping a cup of tea and gazing out the window at a breathtaking sunset; that’s another moment of beauty. And as you walk through the streets, you spot a kind stranger helping a person cross the road, exemplifying the beauty of human compassion. These are the small, yet profound, moments that make our lives richer when we take a moment to truly see and appreciate them.

Sharing the Beauty with Loved Ones

Now, let’s take it a step further. Once you’ve made a habit of noting three beautiful things each day, consider sharing your daily list with friends, family members, or your significant other(s). This simple act can strengthen your connections and deepen your relationships in several ways:

1. Increased Understanding: Sharing what you find beautiful with your loved ones provides them with insights into your values, interests, and what resonates with your heart. It’s an opportunity for them to better understand what makes you tick.

2. Creating Shared Experiences: Encourage your loved ones to join you in this practice. Share your lists, and ask them to share theirs. This shared experience can create a sense of togetherness and common purpose, deepening the bond you share.

3. Expressing Gratitude for Each Other: When you recognize and share the beauty you find in your relationships, you’re expressing gratitude for the people in your life. It’s a wonderful way to let them know you appreciate and value them.

4. Building a Positive Atmosphere: As you and your loved ones engage in this practice, you’ll collectively become more attuned to the beauty around you. This positive atmosphere can lead to increased happiness and an improved outlook on life.

One Small Change at a Time

In a world filled with busy distractions, cultivating gratitude and deepening connections can seem like a daunting task. However, the practice of noting three moments of beauty in your day and sharing them with loved ones is a simple, yet profoundly effective way to enhance your quality of life. It’s a reminder to slow down, appreciate the world’s beauty, and strengthen the bonds that matter most. So, why not start today? What three beautiful things can you find in your day?

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Venetian carnival masks on sale market


As we enter into October, what better way to celebrate Halloween than to discuss masks
and the effects of masking. Physical masks and costumes can be such an exciting and freeing
experience to step away from the monotony of daily life. Putting on a costume allows us to try
something new, play a role, and experience a persona that is outside of the barriers of what we
see as “socially acceptable.” But, what happens when Halloween is not the only time we adorn
our masks. What if we have been stepping out of authenticity on a regular basis and putting on a
mask that we feel the world expects of us so as to please others.
In a world where societal expectations and pressures loom large, it’s not uncommon for
us to feel the pressure to don metaphorical masks, concealing our true selves. This practice,
known as masking, or sometimes referred to as code switching, often arises from a desire to fit
in, feel safe, avoid judgment, or conform to established societal norms. However, the irony lies
in the fact that while masking may provide a sense of security, it ultimately prevents us from
living out our lives authentically.

The Masked Self

Masking involves presenting a carefully curated version of ourselves to the world,
usually as a result of information we have seen or heard from the world around us. This persona
we develop, sometimes from our youth, is often shaped by external influences such as family,
peers, or media, leading us to mimic behaviors, beliefs, or interests that may not align with our
genuine-authentic selves. Over time, we become so adept at wearing these masks that it becomes
challenging to distinguish between who we are, who we perceive we “should” be, and who we
pretend to be. One of the primary motivations behind masking is the innate fear of rejection. We

worry that if we reveal our true thoughts, emotions, or quirks, others may not accept us. As a
result, we tend to suppress our genuine feelings and put on a facade to gain approval. This fear of
rejection can lead to a perpetual cycle of inauthenticity, causing us to drift further from our true,
beautiful, and diverse identity.

The Toll on Mental Health

Living a life veiled behind a facade can exact a profound toll on our mental and
emotional well-being. The persistent charade, the perpetual effort to project an image contrary to
our genuine selves, can sow the seeds of stress, anxiety, depression, and a pervasive sense of
disconnection. The dissonance between our authentic selves and the persona we present to the
world can breed inner turmoil, leaving us with a profound sense of alienation and dissatisfaction
with the trajectory of our lives. It’s paradoxical that the mask, often donned for a sense of safety,
ironically yields results that counter the expected sense of security.

Masks for Marginalized Populations

Masking, sometimes referred to as “Code-Switching” among marginalized populations
including BIPOC, Neurodiverse, and LGBTQIA+, carries both advantages and drawbacks. On
the positive side, masking enables individuals to navigate diverse social contexts effectively,
fostering actual professional success. Masking can also serve as a protective shield, helping
individuals avoid discrimination and ensuring their physical and emotional safety from offensive
exchanges. However, on the flip side, it can erode a sense of one’s authenticity, contributing to
mental and emotional strain as individuals grapple with maintaining multiple personas leading to
anxiety and lower self-esteem from cognitive dissonance. Over time, it can trigger an identity
crisis and perpetuate stereotypes, reinforcing the need for marginalized groups to conform to
dominant cultural norms. While it can be a strategy for success, or even a short term shield of

protection, longterm, it underscores the systemic inequalities and discrimination that persist in
society, emphasizing the importance of fostering acceptance and inclusivity.

Missed Opportunities for Growth

Authenticity is the one of the keys to personal growth and self-discovery. By embracing
our true selves, we open the door to understanding our values, passions, and purpose in life.
Masking, on the other hand, hinders this process. It prevents us from exploring our authentic
desires and limits our potential for personal development. In addition to the internal harm that is
caused by masking, we also create a barrier to authentic relationships and deep connection.
When inviting others to connect, if we are giving them an inauthentic version of ourselves then
the connection will tend to develop in shallow and inauthentic ways.

Breaking Free from the Mask

Breaking free from the mask requires self-reflection and courage, introspection and a readiness
to evolve. It involves acknowledging the fears and insecurities that drive us to mask our true
selves and gradually dismantling these barriers. Here are a few steps to help you live more

Self-Reflection – Take time to reflect on your true values, interests, and passions. What makes
you unique? What do you genuinely enjoy?
Embrace Vulnerability – Accept that it’s okay to be vulnerable and imperfect. Authenticity
often involves revealing your true self, warts and all.
Set Boundaries – Establish boundaries that protect your authentic self from external pressures
and expectations.
Surround Yourself with Support & Acceptance – Seek out supportive relationships where you
can be your true self without judgment.

Living authentically is a journey that requires ongoing effort and self-acceptance. While masking
may provide temporary relief from societal pressures, it ultimately stifles our growth and hinders
our ability to experience life to the fullest. By shedding our masks and embracing authenticity,
we can lead more fulfilling lives, build deep-meaningful connections, and discover our true
purpose in this world.

Working with a therapist can be an invaluable part of this transformative process.
Therapists offer a supportive and confidential environment where individuals can explore their
authentic selves without judgment. They help individuals navigate the often challenging path of
self-discovery, providing guidance, emotional support, and practical strategies for overcoming
obstacles. Therapists can assist in identifying and addressing any underlying issues, such as past
traumas or self-limiting beliefs, that may be hindering the journey toward authenticity.

Additionally, therapists can help individuals develop the self-acceptance and self-esteem needed
to confidently embrace their true selves. They gently encourage self-reflection, self-compassion,
and personal growth, empowering individuals to break free from the constraints of societal
expectations and fully engage with life in an authentic and meaningful way. Remember, it’s the
uniqueness of your true self, nurtured with the help of a therapist, that can make the most
significant impact on the world around you. This Halloween season, as you are on the hunt for
the perfect costume, maybe try on You, without a mask, and see how it feels!

Half the World has One: Giving the Vulva it’s due.

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The clitoris is one of the body parts that just doesn’t get talked about, so you can only imagine my delight in seeing a New York Times article that focuses on the clitoris.  As a sex therapist, people love to talk about sex with me.  When I mention this part of my work, it either seems to embarrass the hearer or permits them to talk about things they never mention.

Such was the case the other night over dinner.  Some fellow volleyball parents and I were getting a bite to eat after the game. The mention of my work inspired another mom to lean over the table, as people do, and generalize what I must see in the therapy room.  The usual assumption is often that in heterosexual relationships, it is the man that is not attending to the woman’s pleasure during sex.  While that may be true in some cases, I find that it is just as often true that the woman is uncomfortable with the focus on her pleasure.  This article on the clitoris explains part of what’s going on.

Sex education doesn’t include much about it.  Doctors don’t seem to consider it, and most women aren’t told much about it.  Over a lifetime of OB-gyn visits, the entire area is shielded from us as it is examined.  The call here for increased study and consideration is long overdue and appreciated.

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