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Doris Bryant, LCSW (NY/NJ)
I was born in the South to a single teen-aged mother. Each of my parents instilled in me the values of faith in God, love of family and the importance of education. My ethnic background is African American. I graduated in 1980 with a B.A. in Psychology from Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts). In 1988 I graduated with a Master’s in Social Work from New York University. Learning about individual human behavior within the context of home, school and work has always been of keen interest to me. Initially, I had planned to become a clinical psychologist and was later drawn to Social Work because of its “person in situation” perspective. This perspective speaks to the concept that their social and family environments heavily influence a person.
My more than twenty-five years in the field of Social Work has been informed by a variety of provider roles. I have been a caseworker within a child welfare social services agency and in a department of welfare. I have been a Psychotherapist within a mental health clinic, a university-counseling center and in private practice. Currently, besides doing therapy, I am an administrator within a hospital based adult outpatient psychiatry department. I am passionate about working with Black people because we are not often represented and validated within multiple arenas of life. I can identify as the only African-American in spaces that have primarily been occupied by white people, where overt, covert and systemic racism often exists.
There was an incident that occurred some years ago where I was involved in a conversation with a senior administrator. I made a reference to “racist practices” and the administrator reframed what I said as “unfriendly” practices. The take-a-way message from this and similar responses is that language must be neutralized and not threaten white supremacy norms and practices; and that Black people do not define their own experiences unless they are endorsed or acceptable to whites. I wish that administrator had exhibited curiosity and that I had challenged her effort to nullify my experience. I have learned from that and other experiences how to empower others and myself in difficult circumstances to have an effective voice.
As a Social Worker, I endeavor to “meet clients where they are” and therefore use a flexible approach that is informed by insight oriented, cognitive behavioral, solution focused, and trauma informed principles. Over the years, clients have indicated that they experience me as someone who “really listens” and can relate to their circumstances/challenges. Whenever I provide supportive counseling one of my primary objectives is to identify and empower client strengths, using accessible language.
In my spare time I enjoy do-it-yourself (DIY) projects, sewing and painting.