Amira Martin, LCSW-R, Psychotherapist and Practice Owner
I was born and raised in the Bronx, New York City. I am my parents, Tom and Vivian’s, fifth child. Our family lived in the Castle Hill projects for several years by the time I was born. I spent most of my youth being raised in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx.
I am Black American. Some people have issue with that term and push African-American. But I grew up being Black until one day, I heard I was supposed to be called African-American. I also prefer Black because I feel it encompasses all of us people from the African diaspora better than the term African-American does. And I definitely feel kinship towards my Afro-Caribbean, whether Jamaican, Dominican, Haitian, Puerto Rican, Afro-Latinx, African and other Black kin throughout the world.
I attended Lehman College- CUNY, and graduated in 2001 with my Bachelor of Arts in Social Work. I was a few credits shy of a minor in Spanish. I attended Hunter College School of Social Work, now called Silberman School of Social Work for my Masters Degree and graduated from their Advanced Standing Program in 2002.
I am currently considering my options with a few Doctorate in Social Work Programs.
I started thinking about my career early on. I became a mom at eighteen and I knew I needed income and ideally a career in order to give my child a good life. I always liked the idea of working in mental health and I began to explore it more seriously after my eldest son was born. Like many people from my community, I had more than my fair share of social issues to deal with. Between drastic changes in my family income, going from living in poverty to being middle class, issues around skin color and colorism within my own home and community, family drug abuse and mental health issues, I was determined to do work that mattered to me and could help my community.
I have been lucky enough to work in some incredible places throughout my career including therapist work in hospitals and mental health clinics, done race and diversity consulting work, directed programs and taught as an adjunct professor and advisor within schools of social work.
I care deeply about my community and believe we can help each other to make the changes we need and get the support we need to build and grow. I have seen and personally experienced inaccurate diagnosis, poor mental health treatment, complete with a lack of understanding, a lack of compassion, assumption of negative intent and assumption of us as people of color having limited intellect, understanding and ability. I am now part of changing this experience with the mental health system for us and this is an honor!
I have definitely dealt with my share of racism, both interpersonal and on the macro level within the multitude of racist systems we must interact with and be part of in order to function in our society. From being ignored and looked over for educational opportunities in my elementary school years, to being told I could select any title except for director, while I was directing a program with a large non profit. To dealing with the male and female "Uncle Toms" frequently put in power in white institutions in order to make a quota and enact racist ideals against their kin folk. I used to speak up, speak out and speak with appropriate anger about these issues. As I gained experience and time took away my heightened energy level, I learned to make decisions that create a long term positive impact for myself and those in my community rather than involve myself with people who have limited interest in actually helping or changing anything. If I could change anything about how I handled these professional and political situations, I would have left them a long time ago and started off on my own much sooner in life.
My clinical approach is varied, I am trained in and use Psychodynamic Psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and Motivational Interviewing. I decide based on the clients issues and goals. I openly talk about the impact of race, racism, colorism, and sexism in my work with my clients. I try to provide many of the things I know are lacking in the therapy we as people of color receive. I do it in a clinically informed and affirmative way.
I have been in practice for over 15 years, and clients generally tell me the same things about what it’s like to work with me.
- That I am very empathic, open and honest with them.
- That I don’t shy away from difficult conversations or feedback with them.
- That they experience me as tremendously caring and thoughtful.
- That I actually help them with their problems.
- That I am soft spoken, soothing and calming to speak with.
I come from a big family! I have four sisters and two brothers. I am a mother of three amazing children. Although I am Black, I learned some new details about my Nigerian, Spanish and Cuban ancestry over the last few years.
Please stay in touch and receive information about my business endeavors, mental health and wellness tools and tips and more at https://mailchi.mp/dd47b78cdf30/black-and-brown-therapy