By: Adrienne Aaron, Licensed Counselor, New Leaf Counseling Group, Charlotte, NC
I have been practicing as a professional counselor and therapist for almost twenty years. I now practice at New Leaf Counseling Group in Charlotte, NC as a part of a diverse counselor and therapist team. Professionally, I work hard to help my clients make sense of their lives. Given that I have so many years of professional experience and also happen to be African-American, many community members identify me as a Black Counselor who will "get it".
Having a"person-centered approach", I am trained in using talk therapy to help people understand the challenges and obstacles of their everyday experiences. A well-trained counselor can see how the pieces of someone's life is creating pain.
I regularly support my clients in making sense of depression, anxiety, trauma, abuse, infidelity, abandonment, self-worth, and personal failures.
These are commonly experienced pieces of going through significant life transitions and as a Black counselor who has been living and working in the same Charlotte, NC community as her clients, there were even a few things that I couldn’t make sense of as well.
In March 2020, things only continued to get shakier...
In March, like many counselors and talk therapists, I switched my practice to online counseling & virtual therapy- even for my clients who were still local in Charlotte, NC.
I followed the state guidelines, and worked from home.
I adjusted to providing counseling and therapy services using my computer and phone, and I continued on with my Life as best I could. But the Coronavirus Pandemic didn’t make sense to me. As the number of cases increased and the restrictions became stricter, it didn’t’ make sense. As the numbers of deaths increased for people of color, it just didn’t make sense.
With the Coronavirus Pandemic came this financial crisis. The economic discrepancy between the poor and rich became very clear. Government stimulus came to assist people. But there were millions of people out of work. Huh?
I understood the need to stay home from work, but it literally blew my mind that 40 million people would need to apply for unemployment.
It broke my heart to see the long lines of people seeking food and emergency assistance. It literally boggled my mind. I didn’t understand? How did we get to this place? It didn’t make sense.
Like many others, this week I watched the images of George Floyd being murdered by a Minneapolis police officer. This was the straw the broke the camel’s back for me. Yes, I am a professional counselor, but we all have our limits.
All of these emotions came up for me that are commonly associated with complex trauma. I felt angry, sad, anxious, hopeless, and confused.
Many People of color are surprised to hear that even a Black counselor goes through the same personal experiences when we are a part of the same community.
The murder was senseless. Then there was a national uprising. People began to protest, some peacefully and some violently. And finally, things began to make sense for me.
We are in a season of TRANSITION and are all affected by this pain. The Pandemic is global. We are experiencing the fear, worry and anxiety of the Coronavirus, and adjusting to ALL of this as a GLOBAL community.
Even as a black counselor, it is easy to take a look around and get ALARMED!
The Financial instability goes beyond the poor, there is a universal uncertainty and instability. We are following the stock market and gas prices.
We are watching big companies and local businesses alike be forced to close down. We are concerned about job security and college funds. We are ALL impacted by this transitional environment!
George Floyd is a racial issue. He was murdered because he was Black.
Police brutality is real in 2020 - as it has always been. Bad police officers are killing Black men and Black women. As a Black Counselor, this is something I have always been aware of. But I believe the constant images make it impossible for all of us to ignore.
This is no longer a Black issue of pain. This is an AMERICAN issue of pain.