When I think of myself as an individual, I think about the things that make me who I am. My beliefs, my values, my quirky characteristics—my likes and dislikes—all the things that make me uniquely “me”! Within those thoughts, I also reflect on who I am as person as part of my nuclear family, extended family and within my community. This even includes thinking about how I interact within my various circles.
My Ghanaian Background
As people, we all have special stories that reveal the details of our lives. Whether those times were traumatic, sad, happy, or positive, these stories and experiences shape who we are, how we think, and how we act. I grew up partially in Ghana, West Africa and am the daughter of Ghanaian Immigrants. This means family and community have always been my foundation.
I often use the old African proverb, “it takes a village”. I deeply believe that we are not meant to journey through this life alone. Traditionally in my culture, although I cannot speak for all, it is the norm to discuss life’s challenges and successes only with those closest to you. Everything stays within the family. In some families, some things are not discussed at all, even though this was not my experience growing up. In Ghanaian culture, you learn the ways of the world by listening to the advice and stories of your elders. Mutual respect is something that is held in high esteem. So, believe me when I say that it is of utmost importance me to have a safe space to talk about your feelings and seek advice when navigating the tough waters of life.
Client centered care through diversity, equity, and inclusion.
As a clinical intern and budding therapist, I work to bring my authentic self to every interaction. But I know it is even more crucial that I acknowledge that we live in a world where many cultures, races, ethnicities, and beliefs exist. In order to understand and appreciate this diversity, it is my responsibility (and same for others in this field) to operate with a lens on equity. One size doesn’t fit all. In some cultures, therapy is considered taboo and talking about one’s mental health is attached to stigma. In others’, seeking help is the norm and encouraged. Understanding those dynamics help me keep the focus on what a client may specifically need when they present to therapy.
This means embracing diversity, equity and inclusion in therapy. This provides an opportunity to reflect on our own biases and potential barriers that may hinder successful treatment. This mode of thinking can help a clinician dig deeper. Clinicians can commit to learning and understanding where their clients are coming from, the environment they live in, and the effects it has on their overall well-being.
Celebrating, understanding, and learning about our differences is not always an easy thing to do. But I find that making a true commitment to start is a great step in the right direction.
About the Author
Amy Gyau-Moyer is an intern therapist at Montgomery County Counseling Center. She has 20+ years of experience in the non-profit and governmental sectors focusing on Public and Population Health. She has an MS in Management & Public Relations and a Masters in Business Administration, both from the University of Maryland. Her undergraduate degree is in Healthcare Administration from the Washington Adventist University, and has an associates degree in Mental Health from Montgomery College. In the realm of keeping diversity and equity at the helm of her wor interactions, she is also trained in Collective Impact strategies and a graduate of the Racial Equity Institute and Undoing Racism training programs. Amy is currently working towards dual masters degrees in Social Work and Disaster Resiliency Leadership in addition to her Certificate in Disaster and Collective Trauma from Tulane University.