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Nurturing Resilience And Liberation – Exclusive Interview With Anisah Miley

Anisah Miley, LCSW, is a social worker and psychotherapist focused on centering the mental health needs of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals. She has over a decade of mental health experience working in community, hospital, and academic settings in NYC. Her goal is to support clients in connecting to their steadiness, their selves, and their communities.

Anisah Miley, Psychotherapist

How would you describe your approach to therapy and the specific modalities you use, such as Internal Family Systems, Mindfulness, and EMDR?

My therapeutic approach integrates three specific modalities into my practice: Internal Family Systems (IFS), Mindfulness, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). These modalities are tailored to address the unique challenges and experiences of marginalized communities.

With Internal Family Systems, I help clients explore and understand the internalized messages, beliefs, and societal expectations that impact their well-being. By working with different parts of themselves, clients can develop self-compassion, emotional awareness, and foster inner healing.

Mindfulness practices are integrated to cultivate self-awareness, reduce stress, and promote self-acceptance. Through mindfulness, clients develop a deeper connection with their bodies, emotions, and thoughts. This empowers them to make intentional choices aligned with their values and desires.

In addressing trauma, I incorporate Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), a modality that assists clients in processing and reframing traumatic memories and beliefs. I am attuned to the specific traumas and systemic oppressions faced by marginalized communities, tailoring EMDR to address the unique experiences within their intersecting identities.

Throughout therapy, my approach is grounded in an analysis of white body supremacy, acknowledging power dynamics, systemic oppression, and social justice issues. I strive to empower clients to challenge societal norms, build resilience, and navigate the complexities of their identities.

To ensure cultural humility, I embrace ongoing education and training and stay informed about the latest research in the field. By creating a safe and inclusive space, I honor the identities of my clients and work towards their holistic healing and liberation.

How do you integrate your personal identity as a Black, Queer psychotherapist into your practice?

I believe that my identities add a richness and depth to my understanding of the challenges my clients may face. I bring the wisdom from my lived experiences as a Black person and a member of the Queer community into the therapy room, creating a safe and affirming space for clients who share similar or otherwise marginalized identities. I draw on my own journey of self-acceptance, resilience, and empowerment to empathize and connect with clients on a personal level.

Incorporating a Black Queer feminist framework, I am attuned to the intersecting systems of oppression that impact the lives of marginalized individuals. I actively work to address power dynamics, challenge white body supremacy, and empower clients to navigate and overcome systemic barriers.

Overall, my personal identity shapes my therapeutic approach by bringing authenticity, cultural humility, and a deep understanding of the experiences faced by BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals. I strive to create a therapeutic environment where clients can explore their identities, heal from trauma, and cultivate self-leadership within a framework of liberation.

Can you explain how Internal Family Systems (IFS) works and how it can be beneficial in therapy?

In Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapy, individuals are seen as having different internal parts, each with their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. We are all born with parts that shift and develop as adaptive responses to life experiences, including trauma and systemic oppression. These parts can sometimes conflict or create inner turmoil. The therapist guides clients in exploring and understanding these parts, fostering self-compassion, and healing. By developing a compassionate relationship with their internal system, clients can achieve greater self-awareness, emotional regulation, and overall well-being. IFS helps clients identify and transform negative patterns, reduce internal conflicts, and promote a sense of inner harmony.

How does mindfulness play a role in your therapeutic approach? How do you incorporate it into sessions?

Mindfulness plays a crucial role in my therapeutic approach as a psychotherapist. I incorporate mindfulness into sessions to support clients in cultivating present-moment awareness, self-compassion, and emotional regulation. Through mindfulness practices, such as breathing exercises, orienting, guided meditation, or body scans, I help clients develop a deeper connection to their thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. This practice allows them to observe their experiences non-judgmentally, gain insight into patterns, and make intentional choices aligned with their values. By integrating mindfulness into sessions, I empower clients to develop self-awareness, reduce stress, and foster overall well-being, both within and outside of therapy.

What is EMDR, and how do you utilize it in your practice? How can it be helpful for individuals dealing with trauma?

EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a therapeutic approach I utilize to support individuals dealing with trauma. EMDR involves bilateral stimulation, such as eye movements or taps, to facilitate the reprocessing of distressing memories and beliefs. The bilateral stimulation aims to activate both hemispheres of the brain, promote the integration of traumatic memories and reduce distressing symptoms. As a therapist, I adapt EMDR to the specific needs of marginalized communities, acknowledging the unique traumas and oppressions they face. EMDR can empower individuals to transform their trauma narratives, cultivate resilience, and reclaim their agency in navigating their healing journey.

How do you create a safe and inclusive space for your BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ clients?

I prioritize creating a safe and inclusive space for my clients by actively acknowledging and validating their unique identities and experiences. I center the concept of ongoing consent, recognizing that my clients are experts on their lived experiences. I approach therapy with openness, curiosity, and a commitment to self-reflection. I seek to understand and honor the cultural nuances, beliefs, and values that shape my clients' lives. By embracing cultural humility, I cultivate a therapeutic environment where clients feel respected, heard, and empowered to navigate their healing journey authentically. Together, we co-create a space that celebrates the diversity of their identities, fosters growth, and promotes inner freedom.

How do you address intersectionality in therapy and understand the unique challenges that BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ individuals may face?

I address intersectionality in therapy by recognizing the interconnected nature of identity and the unique challenges faced by my clients. I acknowledge the compounding impact of systemic oppression and work to create a safe space where clients can explore their intersecting identities. By integrating an intersectional lens, I validate and affirm their experiences, addressing the specific ways in which racism, homophobia, and other forms of discrimination intersect. I strive to understand the complexity of their lived realities, promote self-leadership, and co-create strategies that honor their resilience in navigating and healing from these intersecting challenges.

What strategies or techniques do you use to help clients develop greater self-compassion and self-acceptance?

I utilize various strategies and techniques to foster greater self-compassion and self-acceptance in my clients. An analysis of white body supremacy supports clients in developing greater self-compassion and self-acceptance by exploring the ways in which systemic racism, heteronormativity, patriarchy, ableism, and sizeism have impacted their identity formation. By examining the internalized messages and societal pressures, clients can identify the "parts" within them that have internalized these oppressive beliefs. Through IFS, clients can cultivate self-compassion and understanding towards these parts, fostering integration and healing. Mindfulness practices further enhance clients' ability to observe and challenge negative self-judgment, promoting self-acceptance rooted in their authentic and intersectional identities. This process encourages clients to embrace their strengths, reclaim agency, and cultivate a profound sense of self-compassion and self-acceptance.

In your opinion, what are some of the unique strengths and resilience that BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ individuals bring to therapy?

In my opinion, BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ individuals bring unique strengths and resilience to therapy. Their lived experiences of navigating often intersecting systems of oppression have cultivated resilience, adaptability, and a deep understanding of the complexities of identity. BIPOC & LGBTQIA+ individuals often possess a strong sense of community, drawing strength from their chosen families and support networks. They bring an innate resourcefulness, creativity, and an ability to find joy and celebration amidst adversity. Their perspectives challenge white body supremacy. By honoring and uplifting these strengths, therapy becomes a space to celebrate resilience, cultivate self-leadership, and promote healing within a framework of liberation and social justice.

How do you handle situations where a client's values or beliefs may differ from your own?

I approach situations where a client's values or beliefs differ from my own with respect, empathy, and cultural humility. I prioritize creating a safe space where clients can express themselves without fear of judgment. Through active listening, compassionate dialogue, and an intersectional lens, I work collaboratively with clients to explore the underlying emotions, thoughts, and behaviors that shape their beliefs. Ultimately, my goal is to support their personal growth and well-being within the framework of their unique identities and experiences.

How do you support clients in developing coping mechanisms and strategies to manage stress and anxiety in their daily lives?

Through IFS, I assist clients in identifying and nurturing their inner capacity and resources, helping them build self-compassion and resilience. Mindfulness techniques empower clients to cultivate present-moment awareness, promoting emotional regulation and stress reduction. EMDR facilitates the processing and healing of traumatic experiences, transforming their impact on daily functioning. At the foundation of this work is an exploration of systemic oppression, how it is embodied and stored in the body. By attuning to bodily sensations, we begin to unravel the effects of trauma and stress, empowering clients to reclaim agency over their bodies. By integrating these modalities, I partner with clients to create an approach that addresses the mind, body, and spirit, enabling clients to develop personalized tools for healing and navigate their daily lives with greater ease.

What resources or recommendations do you provide to clients outside of therapy sessions to support their overall well-being?

I provide clients with various resources and recommendations to support their overall well-being, including suggesting books, articles, podcasts, or workshops that center on intersectional identities, self-leadership, and healing from trauma. I encourage clients to engage in grounding exercises, healing body practices, creative arts, and mindfulness meditation. Additionally, I may recommend local community support groups or organizations that specialize in areas relevant to their identities and experiences. By offering these resources, I aim to foster ongoing growth, resilience, and connection outside of our therapeutic work together.

Follow me on Instagram, and visit my website for more info!



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