Knerr reminds families that they have been solving problems for years. The convergence of the pandemic and protests has made life feel out of control. “We’re training families to slow down. We call them back to the skills they know, have them articulate them, then use them. Not everyone is 100% happy, but they’re happier.”
Knerr also suggests young people seek common ground with those who went through the Civil Rights era. “If the younger generation also can give voice to their grandparent’s generation, it’s a fascinating conversation,” she said, “because those two are speaking the same language in some ways.”
Finding community in a time of isolation and fear
Kira Hayes, also a licensed therapist earning her independent practice license, partnered with Ellison Luthy, a PhD student therapist, to respond to the chaos by starting two free support groups. One was for sexual and gender minorities to find community. The other was for parents of LGBTQ+ adolescents or young adults to process their experiences in a safe and accepting environment.
Many in the LGBTQ+ community support Black Lives Matter, Hayes said, because they, too, know what it is to be marginalized.
“It’s very difficult to find (a mental health practitioner) with significant training and specialization in working with (the LGBTQ+) population in general, let alone for relationship and family therapy,” said Hayes, who is multiracial but aware that passing for white gives her privilege. “That’s why I make it known in my practice that I’m a queer-friendly and queer-identifying therapist. I want to be part of changing that.”
In the bi-weekly June and July sessions for individuals and couples, Hayes and Luthy provided psychoeducation during the first half. In the second half, everyone shared experiences and support.