By: Angel Arnold, LPC, NCC – Team Lead – Libertyville
Angel is a creative and passionate Licensed Professional Counselor with a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling from Trinity International University. Most of her work has been for non-profits specializing in trauma and violence related areas as well as OCD and anxiety.
Angel is accepting new clients at the Libertyville, Lake in the Hills and Schaumburg locations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (847) 854-4333.
It was the morning of my first interview with my supervisor and as many in that situation, I was understandably nervous. This was the first year of my internship and I had no idea of what to expect of my supervisor. This wasn’t simply first-interview jitters, there were so many layers beneath. Here’s a bit more about me so you understand my situation. I am a black woman and eccentric. When I thought about therapy and becoming a therapist, I viewed this profession through a white lens. This meant I needed to look and act more like my counterparts, white. Prior to my interview I had just been reprimanded for wearing my beautiful head wraps at my current job. They scolded and told me “it was unprofessional and made customers uncomfortable.” So with this in mind, I picked out a muted black suit that vs. the vibrant print/colors I prefer and struggled for hours combing and brushing my 4c, kinky/coily hair into a sleek bun as opposed to wearing it untamed and free as is my usual fashion. To be honest, I was very uncomfortable. This wasn’t me. To my surprise, when I walked into the office of Dr. Ozella Barnes she was nothing like what I expected but everything I needed to see. This black psychologist wasn’t wearing muted colors like my current outfit but instead vibrant colors and I could see her beautiful tattoos. Her hair was not slicked back but instead in long beautiful locs woven in an intricate style. She did not realize this but in that moment she gave me permission to be myself 100%. Representation matters. I often wonder if my first supervisor had not looked like me would I be the therapist I am today and honestly I think not.
Representation Matters in media, Representation Matters in corporate, Representation Matters in mental health. Conceptually I have always known this fact but the weight and reality of this statement I did not fully understand until I myself began my journey as a therapist. One of the many reasons I became a therapist was to fill in the gap for people who look like myself looking to heal.
Statistically, Black or African Americans make up about 13.4% of our population and 16% of those experience mental illness. With historic trauma stemming from oppression and systemic racism I often wonder why more Black and African Americans are not rushing to seek therapy. One of the reasons I believe contributes is representation. Our experiences, emotions and day to day struggles that oftentimes cannot be expressed in words are expressed by a look, a nod, a cry, or deep silence. And if missed, sometimes increases emotional distress.
Representation matters, I represent Black/African Americans, minorities, eccentric, different, those who have been outcast, and so much more. I help those who wish to find and be more of their authentic self because representation matters; representation gives you permission to be yourself broken and whole.