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Raynell Sangster, LMHC, Therapist and Clinical Supervisor
I was born in Queens, New York City, into a big Jamaican family unit. Both my parents were born and raised in Jamaica, West Indies, and traveled to the United States during adulthood. I was raised by all my aunts, uncles and cousins. My mother was a nurse and midwife along with many women in my family. I identify as a Jamaican-American.
I attended undergraduate school at SUNY Albany with a double major in psychology and piano performance and graduated in 2013. I attended graduate studies at SUNY Old Westbury for my Masters in Mental Health Counseling and graduated in 2015. I am currently in school for my PhD in Clinical Psychology.
I find that many people go into this profession because they have some experience with needing help and someone to talk to at some point in their life. I experienced loss and grief at an early age and as I grew, realized that I did not have the proper tools to process all that happened. I went into counseling to provide those services for others that may need it and may not know how to voice that need.
I have worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in a mental health clinic. I conducted individual, adult, child and family counseling as well as conducted intakes. I have also supervised other Mental Health Counselors in training. My role as supervisor and clinician allows me to work in an administrative and therapeutic capacity. I have also worked at substance abuse clinics running all women and all men groups and worked as a therapist in a high school providing individual and group counseling to students aged 12-19. I have also worked for the Institute of Psychoanalytic Training and Research as a therapist conducting individual counseling for adults as well as Intakes.
As a Black person coming up in America, I found that the limited resources provided to us has made it much more difficult in life to get ahead or even be present in the moment. These difficulties often leave a mental mark, a trauma experience, on us which is not validated by society. I want to be able to validate those experiences that we as Black/Brown people go through and allow the space to work through conflicts in day to day life.
I have dealt with racism since childhood. I have made sure to surround myself with people that can affirm my experiences and challenge me at times through those experiences. Creating this support system has been a major way I have dealt with racism. I have taken the active role at times in dealing with racism (in a preventative manner) which allowed me to change certain policies in a system. I have also taken the passive role and ignored racism which may have spared me further mental damage in the moment but left me feeling regret for not speaking up in the moment, if not for them, for myself.
My approach is to offer a non-judgmental space for you to be able to access internal conflict and process through many of those dynamics. In addition to psychodynamic training, I have been trained in analytic thought as well as using a person-centered approach. This is important because the treatment is about attaining your goals from therapy using the treatment as a guide.
I have been told by clients that I am very supportive and approachable which has allowed them to open up a great deal to me. My approach is to not judge why someone comes in but to remain curious and open to the process.
My grandmother had 9 children that she raised in a 1 bedroom house in Jamaica, hence the big family. I am also a huge dog lover and adopted a dachshund.