Information, Inspiration, and Good Vibes!

The Significance of New Beginnings!

July 15, 2018 

Welcome to Smedley Psychological Services! 

Today's reflection is about new beginnings! How often do you think about a dream, but haven't quite taken the time to translate it into a reachable goal?  I am here to tell you that you can do more than you ever imagined, and here are some simple tips:


1- Talk to someone you trust who has already been successful

2- Break down one task into three smaller tasks to make them more manageable

3- Set timelines and deadlines

4- Still struggling?  Change your mindset.  Start telling yourself, "There is no reason why I cannot TRY."  


A very successful friend and mentor once told me, he owes his success to one simple step- asking for help.  No one has ever become successful or reached their goals without help.  


I hope this motivates you to take the risk to start making steps toward an even brighter future than you ever imagined.  Better to take the risk and lose, than to lose without ever trying.

Blessings!

Dr. S

Transitions

August 18, 2018 

Life is guaranteed to bring about several things; one that is constant is the experience of transitions.  We all have experienced various transitions in life to include moving, grief/loss, relationship status changes,new jobs or schools, health status, and aging!  What matters is how we cope when these various transitions occur, as some are definitely harder than others for each of us, especially when more than one transition occurs at once.


Transitions can be powerful as they show us what we're made of as well as areas that we need to continue to grow.  They also show us who our genuine support systems are made of and what resources are meaningful for us.  


If you are in the midst of a transition currently, I challenge you to evaluate your coping skills.  Are you engaged in any form of self-care? Do you have a few close people in your circle in who you can confide or rely on for help?  Have you scheduled an appointment with your therapist?  How is your diet/sleep/water intake? 


As we mourn the loss of the Queen of Soul, I encourage you to take on the same mindset of Soror Aretha Franklin; when things change, we must roll with it.  To resist change, is to resist the possibilities that are in store for us.


Be well, take the risk, and ask for help!  


Blessings!

Dr. S

Power in Numbers

August 21, 2018 

In church on Sunday, the concept of a village was discussed.  We were challenged to think about who our community is that holds us accountable for our spiritual growth and relationship with God.  


There is such profound overlap in mental/emotional and spiritual health. The same can be true for our mental and emotional wellness.  It is imperative to have those around us who push us to make our therapy appointments, or remind us to stop watching the news or social media when it impacts our energy.  


The concept of group therapy is also commonly a profound experience.  Many people leave the group feeling like, "it's not just me."  The mere act of being able to relate to others is healing in itself. 


I challenge you to consider that you may find your greatest growth and healing by investing in fruitful relationships with those who truly care about your soul.  Who will challenge you?  Who will love you?  Who will set tough but needed boundaries with you?  Who knows when to make you laugh?  Or pray without you even asking?  


Identify your group and you've identified your victory!


Blessings!

Dr. S

Jesus, Justice and Athletes in America

September 9, 2018

This week was the start of another conversation about race relations in America. Nike made a bold statement in their use of Colin "Kaep" Kaepernick as the face of their new ad, advocating for the rights of black lives in America, including his fellow athletes of color. Kaep risked his career through the use of his platform as a professional athlete to take a stand against racial injustice in America. He understood the profound difference in the way in which black bodies have less value in this country than whites.  Although other athletes followed and continued to agree with his stance, he took lead at making a bold statement for young black men in America. He did what was unpopular, with an "un-bothered" mentality in his steadfast belief for what he believed was right and just.


Jesus was often alone or had minimal support in his ministry. His own disciples often doubted Him, but it did not stop His love for people. Jesus was a fan of the “underdog.” He healed people who were sick for decades, allowed people to interrupt him in the midst of Him doing something else, and protected those who even though they may not have been “churched” were still deemed worthy of healing.


In 1967 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke to members of the American Psychological Association charging behavioral health professionals with the task of tending to the needs of what he knew then would be the “Browning of America.” Although a young leader, he understood the psychological implications of racial trauma and the impact on people of color.


Whether you agree or not with the methods of Kaep, Jesus, or Dr. King, it is fair to say they each were relentless in their love and advocacy for the “underdog.” It is my belief as a psychologist, that I have the same responsibility. I was raised within a family and community that believes in giving back. As a mental health professional, I consider it my responsibility to advocate for those who may not have a valued voice in ‘Amerikkka.’ It is also my privilege to train and educate other professionals and members of the community to understand the long-term implications of racial trauma to people of color since our existence on this continent.


This post is to challenge you to consider your own thoughts about social justice from a spiritual and psychological perspective. How do we value our constitutional rights? Do we give everyone grace to exercise them freely? How is protesting against Nike any different from protesting against police brutality? I would argue, the physical act of destroying clothing has far greater risks than a silent protest in support of black bodies in America. I would also argue that it is important to ensure you are following a leader who makes you think and not one who merely plays on your fears and emotional reactions.


As a believer, I am grateful for the service and ultimate sacrifice of Jesus. As a black woman, I am grateful for the selfless heart of Kaep, as I may one day have a son who shares his hue. As a psychologist I am grateful for the work of Rev. Dr. King Jr, who left his mark with mental health care providers, holding us to one of our highest ethical standards – justice for all of those we serve. 


Blessings!

Dr. S

Life!

September 10, 2018

Last weekend I had the privilege of watching a very good friend act in a play at a local community theatre. Her task was to read a script given to her for the first time in a sealed envelope on stage. She did an amazing, breath-taking performance, but as a natural caregiver and mental health professional, I found myself wanting to take care of her following the performance. It was very responsible of the theatre director to have a period of debriefing following the show, as the content of the script impacted the artist and audience by causing deep, intentional thought.


The writer of the script, Nassim Soleimanpour, created “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” carefully weaving together elements of culture, religion, stereotypes, art and mental health. In it, he specifically highlights 17 ways in which one can commit suicide. His last identified method left the audience in profound thought; life. He argued that perhaps life is the slowest form of suicide based on a variety of factors.


Perhaps, he was referring to his own demographic, being a young man in Iran and unable to leave his country. Perhaps he was referring to a specific political climate limiting his abilities to share his art in his own country. Perhaps he was referring to the passive way that people tend to live in their same routines, day in and day out, without any intention for growth or change.


Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. You will see lots of things on social media with information, statistics, phone numbers, resources and on. They are all very useful and should be available upon anyone experiencing a mental health crisis. In addition to those who are struggling with profound depression and loss of a sense of meaning, I want to challenge those who are also living below their potential and not engaged in a meaningful life for whatever the reason. If, in fact, life is a slow form of suicide what will you do to re-engage and take advantage of this precious time that we have?


If indeed you are struggling with more profound depression and have considered or attempted to end your life, know that you are not alone. Know that there are many other people who can relate to your pain, who want to help you sustain and identify your renewed sense of purpose. If you know of people who have been struggling, but take for granted that they are “okay,” reach out to that person anyway. “Strong” people get tired too. Don’t let another hour go by without asking for help- and if one person doesn’t listen, ask until someone does! You are worthy!


Blessings,

Dr. S


For Emergencies Always Call 911

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-8255

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 7, 2018

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Most of us think of physical violence and aggression whenever we hear of instances of Domestic Violence. However, it is important to recognize other forms of abuse that are given less emphasis. Each type of abuse has the elements of power and control at the root of their presence. I’ve highlighted some examples below:


• Emotional/Verbal Abuse

Emotional/Verbal Abuse can consist of any type of words spoken that cause you to question yourself, question your values, or result in lower self-esteem. It may be words spoken that are not consistent with who the person sold themselves to be. It may be words spoken that are inconsistent with a person's actions. It may also be words and actions that push your boundaries. Someone may intentionally do something that they are aware is offensive to you, yet they minimize the impact on you to maintain his or her own agenda.


• Financial Abuse

This is common when one partner makes significantly more money than the other partner or in families with very traditional gender roles. They may deflect and blame financial decisions to be based on “the budget” when, in reality, it’s a means to control you, your decision making, and your place in their life. This form of abuse is more common than we discuss and often leads to the other types of abuse.


• Physical Abuse

Any sort of physical force, aggression or unwanted sexual act.  This can obviously impact self-esteem, self-doubt, and isolate the victim from others.  There is a great deal of shame often experienced, due to sometimes having physical evidence of abuse.  Victims feel pressured to hide which unintentionally perpetuates the cycle of control.  


• Other forms of manipulation

Using the children to coerce the other partner

Unhealthy communication tactics to include, shutting down, ignoring, gaslighting (sowing seeds of doubt in the other), excessive blaming, consistently not taking responsibility

Using sex to control the other


Toxic individuals can be hard to identify.  Initially, they might seem extremely charming and accommodating.  They may make you feel like you are the absolute world to them, almost immediately, even though they don't truly know you. They often play the victim role well, casually blaming parents or past ex's for their issues.  They likely don't get too close to others and have patterns of interpersonal difficulties in the workplace, community or other group settings.  They may present as though they are very confident; however, in reality they struggle with confidence and self-esteem, so much so that it begins to be projected onto others.  Think about it- why would a confident person need to talk poorly and negative about others?  An insecure person tends to thrive on areas of weakness and short-comings of others.  Toxic, abusive individuals struggle with deep feelings of inadequacies and do not have healthy means of coping.


Warning signs of a toxic, abusive relationship can involve:

• Patterns of extreme jealousy by the abuser

• Fluctuations in intimacy patterns by the abuser (a means to control sex)

• Decrease in self-esteem and increase self-doubt (victim)

• One-sided relationship (mostly focused on abuser's needs, time, preferences)

• Isolating victim from family and friends

• Abuser may control type of clothing worn by the victim or be critical of appearance

• Monopolizing finances and free time

• Victim may feel compelled to constantly justify and make excuses for abuser’s actions and words

• Using religion to justify actions and words


I could go on and on with examples and situations; however, hopefully you get the main picture. IF YOU DON’T HAVE A VOICE IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP AND YOUR NEEDS ARE BEING DISMISSED AND IGNORED, IT’S TIME TO EVALUATE YOUR SITUATION!


You are the BEST teacher to inform others how to treat you, and that begins with how you treat yourself!  You are worthy! 


Blessings,

Dr. S


For Emergencies Always Call 911

National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233

www.thehotline.org (You can use the chat feature if you don't want to call)

Take Inventory of Your Most Prized Possession: YOU!

October 9, 2018

In honor of Mental Wellness Week (Oct 7-13), I have created a list of basic tips to preserve one’s mental health!


1. Set boundaries with others! People who truly care for you won’t challenge or pressure you when you have to say “no,” or “I’m not available.” This can be hard for people who are caregivers or are naturally selfless people.  Just remember, you have to fuel up in order to give. 


2. Get an extra 30-60 minutes of sleep. Poor sleep hygiene is extremely common with mental and physical health symptoms. If we give our bodies more time to rest, we will likely experience better mood and lower levels of stress.


3. Evaluate your intake. How much water are you drinking? How much healthy protein and plant-based nutrients are you consuming?


4. Evaluate relationships. Are they balanced? Fruitful? Meaningful? Supportive? Or, do they drain you? Are you primarily the giver or listening ear and those things are not returned to you? Relationships can take a lot from us and it’s imperative to have balance.


5. Physical activity. 75 mins of high volume intensity per week, or 150 minutes of low volume per week. Whether you’re into cross-fit, pilates, or walking, let's get moving! Exercise also helps improve quality of sleep.


6. Intentionally let go!  Pick one thing in your life that you have been carrying for so long, that it's become a part of your identity.  Is it anger at a parent?  Disappointment in a sibling?  Broken-heartedness from a past relationship? Rage towards an employer?  All of those emotions are affecting you far more than they are impacting the target of your emotions.  Find a way to let go and create more room in your heart and mind for new people and new opportunities; and let those opportunities into your life without applying old fears or stale assumptions that they will result the same ways as the past.  To forgive, is to free yourself!


Those are just a few basics to get started with your self evaluation! You are worth taking inventory of your life and where you invest your energy. 


Blessings,

Dr. S

Community Mental Health.... Literally!

April 1, 2019

Stigma continues to be one of the largest barriers to mental health for people of color in America. People of color experience higher rates of mental health symptoms simply because of the stressors related to their physical appearance; however, they are less likely to seek and engage in traditional forms of therapy. Over time, stigma has decreased due to the growing promotion of mental health by popular athletes and entertainers; yet, there is still room for growth.


Many under-represented groups of people often engage in alternate forms of self-care that are often not deemed as “mental health” at initial consideration. Resources such as churches, community centers, barbershops, beauty salons, and even local basketball courts serve as “safe” spaces for people of color to engage with one other, seek support, and have a healthy outlet to share various stressors and needs.


The loss of Nipsey Hussle (Ermias Asghedom) was an unexpected one, causing a ripple effect of emotional waves to several communities, including his intimate circle of family and friends. The culture of hip-hop, employees and consumers at his local businesses, and several generations of young black men, women, and youth across the country have been forced to face challenging emotions of anger, sadness, fear, and numbness all in the past 24-hours since his pronounced death.


Nipsey may not have explicitly promoted mental health, but the principles he stood for were direct examples of a black man who stood for positivity, resilience, a strength-based approach to life’s challenges, and ensuring that he share his wisdom and experiences with the world. His expression through various mixtapes and albums serve as a testament to his desire to simultaneously remain connected to the very community from which he came, while using his gifts to help the generations after him have better opportunities.


Community mental health is more than the presence of clinics in low-income neighborhoods comprised mostly of people of color. We must broaden our definition of community mental health and I will argue that icons such as Nipsey Hussle challenge us to do so. Communities of color often struggle with a principle that people with various privileges often take for granted; that principle is hope. Nipsey offered hope through his use of music, entrepreneurial successes, and promotion of/investment in local community/education system in attempt to ease the traumas for future generations that he likely experienced as a young black male growing up in South Los Angeles.


Nipsey may not have “looked like” a counselor, therapist, or average business man to the traditionally biased eye, but I am certain he impacted the lives of many black males and youth in his community and throughout similar communities in America. It is time for us to broaden our view of mental health, representations of hope and build alliances with the Nipsey’s of our local communities.


Utmost love and respect to his family, children and loved ones.


~Dr. S.