Troy Aidan Sambajon
The UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) Hosford Counseling and Psychological Services Clinic opens up The Healing Center to provide psychological and counseling services to Black-identifying clients in Isla Vista (I.V.).
After opening in winter 2020, UCSB’s Healing Center is continuing to provide psychological and counseling services to Black-identifying clients of all ages in I.V.
Plans to open the center began in October 2020 thanks to a gift from Carrie Towbes and John Lewis. The donors were inspired by Black Lives Matter (BLM) this past summer, particularly after seeing the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Towbes and Lewis reached out to Healing Justice Santa Barbara, a Black-led and Black-centered organizing collective. Their partnership sought to address the pressing need for Black therapists in the Santa Barbara community.
Steve Smith, director of the Hosford Counseling and Psychological Services Clinic, was eager to help the Black community’s need for culturally appropriate therapists. Smith also turned to Dr. Alison Cerezo, a colleague from the Department of Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology, for help in starting the clinic.
The Healing Center has four Black doctoral student therapists, ready to safely provide services to all of its clients via Zoom. The center also plans to host group discussions to further engage with the community.
“Our clinic aims to directly address racial trauma, both collectively and interpersonally,” said Isabelle Fleury, one of the graduate student therapists at The Healing Center.
Jazzmyn Ward and Isabelle Fleury are two of The Healing Center’s graduate student therapists who spoke to The Bottom Line about The Healing Center’s opening during the pandemic.
“Right now, we’re all virtual but once things open up, we’re going to start doing in-person sessions. We’re doing individual therapy, working on group therapy, and some psychoeducation groups as well,” said Fleury.
“[The Healing Center] is able to support the existing structure [of CAPS], but [is also] unique in the way that it’s developed and the population in mind,” said Ward.
In providing services to Black students at UCSB, The Healing Center differs from the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) because The Healing Center aims to provide a more long-term mental health service unique to the Black community. As Fleury said, “With the way that CAPS is built, it can be pretty difficult to have a long term mental health service. So we’re basically trying to lighten that load from CAPS while servicing the greater community.”
“[The] Healing Center aims to provide a safe, culturally responsive space for Black residents to get mental health support, and for that support to be provided by Black therapists who have a keen understanding of the ways anti-Black racism operates in U.S. society. Further, it’s critical that Black psychologists-in-training have a community of Black therapists with whom they can learn from and thrive,” said Dr. Cerezo in The Healing Center’s press release.
“This is the only organization on campus with strictly Black clinicians serving the Black community,” said Ward.
The Hosford Counseling and Psychological Services Clinic is a university-based community clinic that is designed to provide culturally sensitive, low-cost individual, couple, family, and group psychological treatment to the entire Santa Barbara community. Those looking to receive services from The Healing Center can email the clinic at email@example.com.