My Sister's Keeper

Winter 2018- Volume 1 Issue 7

Table of Contents

Tips for Avoiding Holiday Drama

New Year, Same You

Black Women and Therapy

Race/Culture Therapy

New Groups 

Ask a Sister Therapist

Tips for Avoiding Holiday Drama

Watching TV and movies often gives us the idea of a perfect holiday where everyone gets along and it’s all joyful and peaceful.  This is very rarely the case in real life.  I’ve complied some tips to help you avoid the almost inevitable  holiday drama


1. Don’t expect to heal old wounds

Don’t use holidays as a time  to repair old childhood wounds, with difficult family, keep conversation simple. Don’t  get drawn into their drama. Don’t apologize or defend yourself.  Stay near the people you like and that like you and  don’t forget to breathe.

2. Don’t expect people to change

Don’t expect people to be any different from who they are, whatever or whoever irritated you last year, will probably do so this year.   Hoping people will be different this year just sets you up for disappointment.

3. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries

If someone tries to push your buttons, remind yourself not to personalize it. How people act and behave is a reflection of who they are and has nothing to do with you.

4. Plan ahead

Set limits ahead of time about things like how long you might stay at a family function.  Try and have some go-to coping strategies in mind before you get there.

5. Control what you can control

Whether your family has  hurt you or regularly offends you,  try to use holiday time to become an even stronger person.  Remember no one can touch your thoughts, so think what you want, laugh to yourself and give yourself compassion.

6. Look for joyful moments

Remember this is real life not a  movie.  Throw away the idea of achieving perfection, but create moments that are special to you.

New Year, Same You

It’s almost a  new year and everyone is making resolutions.  “I’m going to lose weight”, “I’m going to the gym”, “I’m going to eat better” etc.  We all make these resolutions and then a few months later we’re back where we started and forget about changes we wanted to make to “better” our lives.    While it’s good to make changes to help you lead a healthy and happy life, we shouldn’t try to make all changes all at once, also sometime when we decide to make a lot of changes, we set ourselves up for failure because we have so much on our plate.

Instead of making many resolutions think of making intentions.  You can say I intend to try to  go to the gym 3 days a week or I intend to eat healthier.  Doing this takes pressure off of you and if you fall off just remember to get back up.  Also remember even if you make changes  you’re still the same person and you’re just learning how to be the best possible version of yourself.  

Black women and Therapy

“What would a White doctor know about my problems?” “They’ll call me crazy and lock me up!” “The pastor has been helping me,” and “Where would I even find a good Black counselor?”   Although the Black community shares the same concerns and mental health issues as others  and with  even greater stressors due to discrimination and economic inequities,   many shy away from psychotherapy.    This is due to many factors such as feeling unable to find a therapist they feel can truly help them,  being distrustful of White people, the belief that seeking help makes you weak and also the idea that therapy is for “crazy” people.


Cultural Mistrust

African Americans have a greater distrust of the medical establishment in general, and many feel that  medical institutions hold racist attitudes. This goes  back to historical abuses of slaves by White doctors for medical experimentation; Blacks could neither consent or refuse to participate because of their low social status and were often victimized, even to the point of being used as examples of surgical techniques for medical students.

Cultural mistrust is partially responsible for  the under use of  mental health  services, leaving many without needed care. Black people may fear mistreatment, being hospitalized involuntarily, or being used as research “guinea pigs.” Black people who regularly encounter prejudice often  develop “healthy paranoia” — a cultural response style based on experiences of racism and oppression in White society.  Worries  about being judged or wrongly  diagnosed may lead many African Americans to exercise caution or avoidance of mental health care. This reaction has lead some clinicians to over diagnose paranoia in  Black clients, which then leads to greater mistrust on the part of the client.

Therapist Factors

White therapists often don’t understand why Black clients  are cautious.  Unfortunately ethnic and racial stereotypes often affect therapeutic relationship.  The therapist’s reaction to the client  can be complicated by unacknowledged prejudice, stereotypes, and feelings of guilt.  An honest discussion of ethnic and racial factors in the therapeutic relationship can increase trust and mutual understanding.  However, many therapists are unsure how to approach racial differences, and may prefer a “colorblind” approach.

Colorblindness Is Not the Answer

A colorblind approach only relieves the therapist of his or her obligation to address racial differences and difficulties.  Being  colorblind allows the denial of uncomfortable racial and cultural differences.    Being colorblind  ignores the experience of being stigmatized by society and represents a failure on the part of the therapist.


Race/ Culture Therapy

It can be very difficult navigating the world as a Black woman .  Dealing with microaggressions, misogyny and everything else  can take a toll on your mental health and well being.  i understand how exhausting and challenging our lives can be at times. Therapy at Transforming Lives will  provide a safe place for you to talk about  your concerns without judgment,  code switching, or worrying  that you have to educate your therapist  on the topic.   Don't fall for the myth of the "Strong Black Woman" and deal with everything by yourself.

New Groups

Hope and Healing- A 12 week closed group for women who have experienced childhood abuse and trauma.  Group will re start in February..  This is an online  group and is limited to 6 members.

My Sister's Keeper- A 12 week closed  support group for  Black women.  Group will re start in February.  This is an online group and is limited to 8 members.

Ask a Sister Therapist

Dear Racquel

I'm a Black woman married to a white man and his family is racist.  They're not overtly racist but they voted for Trump and say things like you're different from other blacks and are always trying to see if our daughter is getting darker (she's 2).  We're going there for Christmas and I don't want to be around them.  I love my husband and he's a good person but his family is just awful.  How do I deal with these people?

Sara K

Hi Sara,

Thank you for reaching out to me.  I'm sorry you have to deal with this considering this is your husband's family.  I do think you should have your husband speak to them and let them know they need to be respectful of you and your child as well as your marriage.  On Christmas try to enjoy the time with your husband and child and focus on them and not his family.  




Dear Racquel,

I'm in college and my parents want me to become a doctor.  I don't want to go to medical school but they won't understand that I want to be a writer or work for television.  We're Caribbean so to them the only good jobs are doctor, lawyer, nurse or engineer.  I need to be able to tell them this isn't my dream.

Mia W

Hi Mia,

Thank you for reaching out to me.  My family is Jamaican so I understand the idea that there are only 4 professions.  You need to sit down with your parents and explain why you no longer want to be a doctor,  Show them what you can do with a degree in journalism and give concrete examples of what you can do so they won't think you will be wasting your time and money.  My best to you.




If you have a question for Ask a Sister Therapist, feel free to email me at .  All identifying information will be kept confidential.

Thank you

Thank you for reading and subscribing to My Sister's Keeper, the newsletter of Transforming Lives Counseling Service.  I founded Transforming Lives in 2016 to provide therapy to women and adolescents especially Black women and girls.  Along with my colleagues  Latifa A. Williams, LMHC and Jennifer Dorsey, MHC- LP  we provide therapy within a  holistic and culturally sensitive framework.  You can visit our website at  Thanks for reading and the newsletter will be back in a few months.



Transforming Lives Counseling Service

19 W 34th Street, New York
United States