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Inspiring Conversations with Chioma Okeke of MyBlackTherapist DMV

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chioma Okeke.

Hi Chioma, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
Growing up as a first-generation Nigerian-American, and the oldest daughter of four, there was a lot of pressure placed on me both at home and outside of the home as I struggled to find my place in the world. This naturally impacted my mental health, but fortunately, with the help of God, great friends, my therapist, and a lot of confidence, I could overcome these struggles at a fairly young age. I realized, though, that not everyone has the same resources as I did. Ever since then, mental health (and just the way the brain/mind works in general) has been a huge passion. While my parents instilled an overwhelming desire for success in every aspect of the world, success was never enough for me. I also wanted to make sure that no matter what I ended up doing with my life, I would be making a positive impact in the lives of others in some meaningful way. That’s why I chose to pursue a career in mental health and am currently completing a doctoral degree in Clinica Psychology/Neuropsychology. My journey to the beginning of my career is a long one, so, in the Summer of 2020, I started thinking of ways I could start helping people in my community improve their mental health now. As I have been involved in the mental health field for many years, I would often get asked where or how to find a black therapist and found this question wasn’t as easy to answer as I’d like. So, after a few months of brainstorming, website design research, and reaching out to several therapists, I created “MyBlackTherapist DMV,” an online directory for helping black people in my area (the DMV) find black therapists.

We all face challenges, but looking back, would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I would love to act like I overcame a bunch of obstacles in creating this website, but the truth is the entire process and journey have been smooth. I’m a DIY person, so once I learned how to create a basic website, it was a wrap. While it took a few months, designing the website was fun. The hardest part of the process was finding enough therapists to join the site. I probably sent at least 1000 emails to local therapists, some I knew, most I didn’t. Once I hit a specific number, I launched the site and released it to the public. The website is used daily, and the number of therapists listed is still growing. The outpour of support from friends and strangers over the past two years has been overwhelming. The positivity this site has brought to my life and the lives has others has confirmed that God placed this project on my heart and that it was something I was meant to do. I couldn’t have asked for a more positive experience.

As you know, we’re big fans of MyBlackTherapist DMV. For our readers who might not be as familiar, what can you tell them about the brand?
Only 2-4% of all therapists in the U.S. are Black, which can make finding one difficult. MyBlackTherapist DMV is an online directory that connects Black people to Black therapists in the DMV. Once on the site, you can scroll through the therapists’ pages to find one that is the best fit for you, or you can use the search tool to find a therapist based on keywords, such as location, insurance, a specific problem you’re dealing with, etc. What’s nice about MBT DMV is that it focuses on a particular population of therapists within a specific area, making them more accessible to Black people in my community. While the site is still growing and developing, I’m extremely proud of all the people it has been able to help thus far, and I’m excited about its future.

Can you share something surprising about yourself?
Something most people might not know about me is that I’m somewhat of a baby creative. I enjoy creating and producing aesthetically pleasing things. Throughout my life, I’ve dabbled in every form of art, from music to dance, photography, acting (embarrassing), painting, graphic design, you name it. I work part-time as a makeup artist now, so that’s my main creative outlet at the moment. And if I wasn’t in the field, I’m in, and I would probably go into interior design or something related. My creative side is part of what made creating the MBT DMV website so fun for me because I designed every detail of it myself.

Contact Info:

  • Website:
  • Instagram: @chiohmagawsh_
  • Twitter: @chiohmagawsh_

Image Credits
professional shots (pink suit) by Miguel Djontu (@mesus.studios)

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