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Meet Trailblazer Dylesia Barner, LCSW

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dylesia Barner, LCSW.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Dylesia. So, let’s start at the beginning, and we can move on from there.
I grew up in the projects of Portsmouth, Virginia where multiple generations of one family inhabiting the same hood wasn’t uncommon. A short walk across the playground led me to my maternal grandmother, aunts, cousins… and the candy lady, which my sweet tooth finds it important to note. Though my tiny world existed only as far as I could get on foot (we lacked transportation) and I’d never seen all the world had to offer, I struggled with accepting my stereotypical end. I had hope that there was better even though there was no sign of it. I trusted that there had to be a path out of poverty even though no one had shown it to me. And I was determined that I wouldn’t grow up and sign a lease to continue a generational curse even though every one before me had. Writing this today, I have two degrees (and one in progress), a clinical license, a growing private practice, an international speaking portfolio, a published book, and a creatively inspiring brand developed to connect mental health professionals from urban, low-income backgrounds with potential clients from marginalized communities.

I got where I am today because I wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and because I refused to do only what was within my power. Knowing that God and miracles reside where my capacity stops, I live on the edge – at the end of myself and the beginning of divinity.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The journey hasn’t been and still isn’t easy. Challenges like family dysfunction created deeper issues like survivor’s remorse and imposter syndrome, which gave way to clinical concerns like depression and anxiety.

Growing up, I witnessed relationships that were held together simply by the glue of gossip – family members gathered to drink beer, smoke cigarettes, and talk about those not present. This prompted me to not only question the trustworthiness of others but to struggle with what it meant to be productive. I didn’t want to spend my free time tearing others down, so I spent it imagining, creating, and losing myself in books that would offer me brief escapes from reality. Later, when I became a first-generation college student, guilt and fear crippled me. I knew I was taking a step in the right direction, but the weight of trailblazing and statements from loved ones like “I always knew you’d be the one to abandon us” left me worried and confused. It didn’t help that college was a financial and social haze. I opened several bank accounts, and a credit card and overdrafted/maxed them out shortly into my freshmen year. I also thrust myself into student life, getting involved in far more organizations than I was mentally and emotionally capable of and later, I became the butt of a Greek life joke that forced me into social isolation and gave life to the self-abasing voices I’d already been struggling to ignore. This resulted in me locking myself in my dorm room for days at a time and engaging in repetitious religious activity.

It wasn’t until later in life that things would start to make sense. That said, I’d advise young women, in particular, to be patient with life and trust that rough patches eventually iron out. Forgive yourself for what seemed to be poor choices and lapses in discernment, and especially for what you did in order to survive. Never be remorseful of a decision you’d make ten times out of ten if the version of you who made it were put back into the same situation, and most importantly, stop holding past you to current you’s standards and find a therapist!

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Trap Therapist – what should we know?
I am licensed as a Clinical Social Worker and own Existence, Consciousness, Bliss Counseling, Psychotherapy, and Wellness Center, a private mental health practice located in Downtown Nashville, TN. I am also the Founder and President of Trap Therapist. A platform connecting mental health professionals from urban, low-income backgrounds with one another and with clients from marginalized communities.

As a clinician, I treat clients experiencing a wide range of concerns using therapeutic modalities such as Narrative Therapy and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I am known for being relatable, transparent, and daring in my approach to not therapy, but life, because I value using personal testimony to challenge others to reach their fullest potential.

Through Trap Therapist, I regularly create conversations around emotional healing, breaking generational curses, and the differences that exist within minority sub-cultures. I have also traveled as far as to Europe to deliver presentations to practitioners and laypersons on topics such as spiritual abuse, a form of religious trauma that often impacts vulnerable populations. In 2012, I published my first book Encouragement at Your Fingertips: 365 Days of Inspiration. Further, I develop self-help and Christian devotional content through my website dylesiabarner.com.

Which women have inspired you in your life?
This is always an interesting subject for me because growing up. I didn’t have role models. I had what I like to call “reverse role models.” I wanted something different than what I saw, so I did the opposite of what everyone else did. Looking back, I valued my mom’s tenacity and confidence, and my paternal grandmother’s optimism and character, but I can’t say anyone fully inspired me. I think inspiration is great, but because I lacked a lot of it, I’m also able to see the downside of it – that it can threaten originality.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Portrait Innovations; Nigel Barner

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