BTR Founder & CEO
Tragedies such as the murders of Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd have become more visible, and the implications for vicarious collective trauma and long-term mental health effects for marginalized people, has become more evident. Black Therapists Rock was established to provide culturally relevant mental health awareness for collective healing that addresses and resolves the lifelong impact of racial trauma.
Within the last 12 years research has just started to acknowledge a link between racism and psychological distress. Nationally representative polls and surveys have indicated that approx 87% of Black Americans “characterize racism as a very serious or serious problem”. Additionally, the PTSD prevalence rate in our community is 40% higher than whites and Hispanics. Despite the unique stressors and higher rates of trauma, Black people seek treatment at significantly lower rates, often due to lack of trust in white professionals and Eurocentric therapeutic styles.
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The psychological well-being of our community, and the society as a whole, is in a critical state. We are the first responders of social and emotional wellness for individuals, families and organizations. Black Therapists Rock works towards Community Development by supporting healers who are vital to our collective forward movement.
We work to empower organizations and individuals who are aligned with BTR’s mission and values. With a commitment to dismantling barriers to equity at the forefront of our partnership relationships, we help organizations develop inclusivity initiatives and bring relevant programming to our members in collaboration with mental health organizations. Our leadership facilitates and advocates for meaningful change and is dedicated to the success and endurance of our collaborative pursuits.
The Black community is often thought of as an ongoing saga of reliance, incredible strength, and perseverance, in spite of a brutally harsh past.
However, the obvious connection between mental health and racial oppression, health disparities, cultural differences, societal factors, poverty, and reduced quality of life, often goes unspoken.
Dr. Carl Hart is the Chair of the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. He is also the Ziff Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry. Professor Hart has published numerous scientific and popular articles in the area of neuropsychopharmacology and is co-author of the textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (with Charles Ksir). His most recent book, High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society, was the 2014 winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. Professor Hart has appeared on multiple podcasts, radio and television shows including Real Time with Bill Maher and The O’Reilly Factor. He has also appeared in several documentary films including the award-winning “The House I Live In.” His essays have been published in several popular publications including The New York Times, Scientific American, The Nation, Ebony, The Root, and O Globo (Brazil’s leading newspaper).
Paulette Smith, LCSW-C, is a licensed clinical therapist specializing in cannabis therapeutics, adolescent development, and the establishment of productive, results-oriented teams in support of culturally competent treatment. Paulette has used creativity and innovation to build a knowledge base that offers her clients first-class care and consulting services. She also applies that knowledge and creativity in training and educational settings providing authentic, realistic, and easily applicable guidance on various topics. Her expertise has been cultivated over 15+ years in school-based, clinical, private practice, and dispensary settings to acquire a range of skills in traditional and non-traditional counseling practices that scientifically incorporate the integration of cannabis products. A trailblazer in her own right, Paulette is highly sought after to share her knowledge in the growing cannabis therapy field. She possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and has launched a platform for exploring cannabis therapeutics called Canna Heals, LLC, in addition to her counseling practice, Paulette Simone & Associates, Inc. In addition to the real-world experiences that refined her talents, Paulette obtained her bachelor’s in broadcast journalism from Bowie State University, a master’s in Social Work from Morgan State University, and a Master’s in Medical Cannabis Science Therapeutics from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Ms. Smith is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Social Work at Simmons University.
Dr. Sa’ed Al-Olimat, PharmD is a Taiwanese-Jordanian first generation American immigrant. He is a licensed pharmacist, community pharmacy manager, and educator of psychedelic medicine. He has worked with pharmaceutical companies, prescriber clinics, hospice and palliative care organizations, insurance groups, and other settings to enhance patient care. Dr. Sa’ed’s passion in advancing mental health outcomes led him to investigatie psilocybin and other classical psychedelic compounds as tools for mental, spiritual, and emotional support.
Dr. Sa’ed currently serves as a Co-Founder of the Psychedelic Pharmacists Association, Founder of PsiloHealth, advisor to a few psychedelic companies and organizations, as well as a Board Director for his local county pharmacists association. In his free time, he enjoys practicing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.
Mischa Dansby, is an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse specializing in Women’s Health who was raised in Huber Heights, Ohio. She received her Bachelor’s in Nursing from Wright State University. After her graduation, she joined the Air Force and has continued to serve for 22 years. During her Air Force career, she completed her Master’s in Nursing and became certified as a Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner at The Ohio State University. She is currently studying at the University of Cincinnati pursuing certification as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. Additionally, she is completing her training as an Internal Family Systems Therapist. Mischa is passionate about supporting women on their journey towards healing and wholeness.
Hanifa Nayo Washington, she/her/hers, is a social entrepreneur, sacred activist, digital designer, and healing justice practitioner. Hanifa is the co-founder and the Chief of Strategy of Fireside Project, the San Francisco based non-profit that operates the first national Psychedelic Peer Support Line with a mission to help people minimize the risks and fulfill the potential of their psychedelic experiences. The support line, featured in the Rolling Stone, Forbes, Esquire, and Tech Crunch, launched in April of 2021 and has already supported thousands of community members. Hanifa Nayo is also the Co-founder and Organizing Principal of One Village Healing, an online BIPOC centered healing, resilience, and psychedelic wellness space.
Victor Cabral, MSW, LSW, CCTP-I, (He/Him/His) is a collaborative and strategic leader who is making an impact on historical inequalities in his community and across the United States. Victor is the Founder of Dreamers of the Day, LLC, and serves as the Director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Fluence International Inc., a company that provides evidence-based training in psychedelic therapy and integration services to clinicians across the globe. Before joining Fluence, Victor served as Deputy Director for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Advocacy and Reform where he co-led the implementation of the Trauma-Informed PA Plan, helped establish the first Racial Day of Healing in Pennsylvania history, and developed free trauma trainings for Pennsylvanians in collaboration with BIPOC mental health and trauma, and psychedelic medicine. He is a Licensed Social Worker and practicing psychotherapist in Pennsylvania with training in Internal Family Systems, Psychedelic-Assisted Psychotherapy and Psychedelic Integration.
Deran Young is a licensed therapist, CDWF, CDTL, co-author of New York Times Best Seller, You Are Your Best Thing, retired military officer, and the founder of Black Therapists Rock. Black Therapists Rock is a non profit organization that mobilizes over 30,000 mental health professionals committed to reducing the psychological impact of systemic oppression and intergenerational trauma. She obtained her social work degree from University of Texas, where she studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa for two semesters creating a high school counseling center for under-resourced students.
Deran’s passion for culture and people has led her to become a highly sought after diversity and inclusion consultant working with companies like BBERG, Facebook, Linked In, Field Trip Health, and YWCA. Deran’s advocacy expands over several online and offline platforms. With a current social media audience of over 100,000 followers on IG and Facebook, Deran has become a leading influencer and public figure committed to spreading mental health awareness and improving health equity.