We had the good fortune of connecting with Melody Li and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Melody, what matters most to you?
The value that matters most to me is liberation – liberation of the most marginalized with Indigenous sovereignty and Black liberation at the forefront and also to all humans that are systemically oppressed, silenced, or marginalized. This is a central value to our community, Inclusive Therapists, which centers the needs of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, as well as amplifies the voices and expressions of Neurodivergent and Disabled communities. I believe liberation also extends to non-humans and Land or Mother Earth too. I believe in the liberation of all species and land that humans have exploited, extracted from, and dominated over time, which has led to climate crisis and other deterioration of our shared ecology. This is important to me because our mental health and all of our wellbeing are interconnected. For us to be well, Land has to be well and all those that we are in relationship with have to be well. For us to be well, we first start with ending oppression, then restore dignity and inherent value to all beings that colonial systems and structures have attempted to sever.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
People with marginalized identities have disproportionately less access to quality mental health care. This problem is amplified during COVID, in combination with racialized traumas, anti-LGBTQ+ rulings, and migrant crisis that compound on our collective wellbeing.
Inclusive Therapists offers a safer, simpler way for people with marginalized identities to connect with culturally responsive, social justice-oriented mental health services. We center the needs of BIPOC & 2SLGBTQIA+ communities, disabled people/ people with disabilities, and the span of the neurodiversity spectrum.
Some services we offer include:
1) providing a comprehensive therapist directory with a free personalized clinician-matching service
2) extending marketing and professional support for minoritized therapists to develop thriving practices
3) offering free mental health education and resources to the community, and equity-centered professional trainings
4) leading mental health liberation advocacy to enhance quality care access for minoritized communities
5) investing into future clinicians with marginalized identities through mentorship and financial support
As a queer immigrant of color, despite my many privileges, I had my fair share of struggles in finding a therapist that gets me. I became tired of educating my therapist on my multi-cultures, racialized trauma, and what it’s like to navigate systemic injustices impacting my communities. I have been gaslighted by therapists that upheld oppressive practices. The therapist in me is pained by hearing stories from friends and people with marginalized identities that were burned in therapy. I admired how despite the retraumatization, folks still took courage to give therapy another chance. My therapist friend Sam and I created Austin Counseling Collective, a BI&POC & LGBTQ+ focused mental health space in 2015. Subsequently, several therapists of color and I launched the Austin Therapists of Color community where we support one another and share resources for our clients of color. When other (QT)BIPOC therapists learned about our work, they wanted to join our mission! This led to me creating the Inclusive Therapists network across the US and Canada. Entering into a therapeutic relationship should not feel like a gamble. My purpose is to help connect social justice and liberation oriented therapists with people of all identities in all bodies that are ready to heal, grow, and thrive.
Thus, Inclusive Therapists is passionate about helping BIPOC and LGBTQIA2+ individuals access equitable mental health services while also acting as an agent for positive change as an advocate for mental health liberation. We push the boundaries in mental health by connecting and supporting the community through our therapist directory in the following ways: bridging over 13,000 minoritized people with liberatory oriented, culturally responsive mental health care services, supporting 3000+ therapist members’ practices and professional development, with monthly growth of 150+ members, petitioning against psychologists with racist ideology, creating over 30 free professional development and collective healing events for the community in the midst of COVID, social uprisings, global crisis etc., creating new learning platforms for marginalized clinicians that cannot locate themselves in dominant culture schools and trainings, centering justice and liberation, Indigenous Sovereignty, intergenerational healing and ecological wellness as foundation for collective mental well being.
Please also check out our sibling non-profit, Mental Health Liberation, set to launch in early 2022.
Together, we bridge BI&POC with quality mental health care and empower clinicians with marginalized identities.
Our upcoming programs uplifting minoritized mental health:
1) BI&POC Therapy Fund: Free therapy services and healing circles for Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color.
2) Liberatory Student Support: Mentorship & peer support for students with marginalized identities pursuing careers in mental health.
3) Equitable Supervision Circle: Community-funded, liberation-oriented clinical supervision for emerging therapists.
Follow, amplify, and donate if you have the means. Thank you for your support!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love Houston’s Chinatown/Little Saigon area. I have a really tender place in my heart for people of diaspora, and when I first moved to Austin there were times that I felt pretty alone. I didn’t see a lot of people that looked like me or even ate like me. When I took a trip to Houston and explored the Chinatown and Little Saigon area, I treasured the vibrant community of people of East, South, and Southeast Asian diaspora. My favorite way to get to know a community is by going to small independent mom and pop restaurants to get to know about the local people. Food really unites and brings people together as we share stories, lineages, and culture through meals. So That is the first place I visit when I go to Houston. One of my favorite places is ECK (Egg Custard King) bakery. They serve these amazing egg tarts that have a super flaky tart shell and this really creamy, jiggly egg filling, and it just reminds me of Hong Kong, so when I go to Houston I buy dozens for myself and as gifts for others.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’d like to dedicate this shoutout to Dr. Jennifer Mullan of Decolonizing Therapy, who is not only an influential voice in our community, but also a thought leader and fearless advocate of decolonizing the mental health industrial complex. She is also a wonderful friend and supporter of our work at Inclusive Therapists.