We had the good fortune of connecting with Corissa Barrow and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Corissa, what role has risk played in your life or career?
In the world, the social narrative is that “if there is a will, there is a way”. While this is true, this concept fails to embody the idea of who’s will and who’s way? As a first-generational Latina student and brown clinical practitioner, showing up in the room as my full self amongst a crowd who did not look like me or talk like me was hoops I found myself navigating day to day. From lingo, to experiences, to wardrobe, I was showing up as not the majority. In these scenarios, my will and my way did not align to their will or their way. Redefining this idea of “will and way” was the essence that birthed the concepts of what risk looks like as a brown girl. Redefining what the idea of rejection means for me and reframing the perspective of what were to happen if I heard the answer “no”. Rejection, the feeling of not being “fit” enough to belong or adequate enough to be within are crushing feelings. Not only are they crushing feelings but it then fuels the discourage to ever take the leap of faith ever again. Becoming comfortable with the uncomfortableness of rejection helped me embody my idea of what I imagined my will and my way to be. In this world, there are multiple realities and experiences. Not one is right nor is one wrong. So while the reality of another person is to tell me “no”, I know that there is a reality where another will eventually tell me”yes”. Changing my relationship with the idea of risk fueled my intentions, motivations and more.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am currently a Marriage and Family Therapist graduate clinician at the Michael E. DeBakery Veteran Affairs Medical center in the heart of Houston, Texas. My days are filled with collaboration as I work with couples of all ages, race, and genders towards living sustainable, productive, and meaningful lives. The ladder towards this was a pathless road filled with risk and rejection. After having the privilege of graduating high school, I had the honor to earn a spot at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. As I entered into a new experience as a first-generation college student, I had to learn how to fight my own monsters and battles of a world that was not built with me in mind. I struggled with the lack of resources and absence of role models of how to navigate systems within such large institutions. What did this look like? Low motivation, substance misuse, absences in a class, late assignments, and cycles of academic probation. I was attempting to strive in a world that casts my unfamiliar and functional depressions to the side. Within that next year, I searched for my meaning of what it meant to be successful. Did this mean to become involved in every organization I could? Did this mean to wear the cutest outfits on campus so I could be noticed? Did this mean to throw the coolest parties or to be a part of big-name sororities? The identity I had created in my hometown was miles away and I struggled to create a new one. This realization birthed the idea I would call my career now – to be able to become the person that I needed in the moment. By leaning into what I feared, I was able to discover my passion of understanding others and assisting them in the best way possible. That next year I enrolled myself in my very first psychology class and advocated for myself through various research and volunteer opportunities within the department. Despite the fear in my gut, I knew the worst that anyone could ever tell me is “no”. After graduation, I embodied my vision of helping others and took the leap of faith when applying for graduation programs. Fears of “what ifs” and uncertainty filled my gut. By changing my relationship with fear, I embarked on the journey towards applying and found myself landing a spot within the Masters of Marriage and Family Therapy program at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

As a I gear up towards graduation in May 2022, I reflect on the lessons and experiences I have earned. That the path towards here was not cleanly cut nor chiseled out for me. To honor the hardship that accompanied this journey, because truly I was creating a pathway for myself out of nothing. To be easy with myself and always know I am my own friend first. When the relationship I had with myself changed, it made handling the realities of this world much easier.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Outside of the therapy chair, I truly enjoy the outside space of the city! My absolute favorite place is Buffalo Bayou Park. You can catch me jogging or riding my bike on the trails on any given day.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Without my support systems in place, I would not be the self I would be today. Foremost, the education that the University of Houston-Clear Lake has provided me has been the best educational experience thus far. Specifically, Dr. Afshana Haque and Dr. Emily Fessler who have continued to support my growth and clinical skill within the therapy room. Also, the clinical support and safe space that the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy Minority Fellowship Program has provided has been such a positive impact on sharpening my clinical lense. My family’s sacrifices that acts as the foundation to my success. Lastly, colleagues Sarah Sepolio, Karina Garcia, and Jeannie Copado for always supporting my clinical curiosity on a day to day basis.

Website: www.corichats.com

Instagram: @corissabarrow

Linkedin: Corissa Barrow

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