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Promoting Community and Mental Health Through 'Tea and Therapy'

Stories | 02.23.21

Adlerian psychologist Kimberly M. Martin, Psy.D. ’10, wanted to find a way to create community connections and increase access to mental health information. So she started hosting community events, workshops, and now a podcast called “Tea and Therapy.”

Dr. Martin is a graduate of the Clinical Psychology (Psy.D.) program through the Chicago Campus. She was attracted to how Adlerian psychology focused on the person and normalized mental health rather than the “medical model at the time that pathologized the individual,” said Dr. Martin, who serves as an Advisory Board Member for the Center for Adlerian Practice and Scholarship. “This was something that has the scientific base and credibility behind it, but also had that social aspect that says mental health is normal.”

Dr. Martin now runs a private practice in Indianapolis, where she takes this Adlerian, people-focused approach to therapy.

“My specialty is people and I’m grounded in Adlerian psychology,” Dr. Martin said.

However, Dr. Martin was encountering individuals who wanted to see her, but she was not on their insurance policy or they could not afford their co-pay. In the spirit of Adlerian psychology, Dr. Martin wanted to promote community mental health for everyone and find a way to:

  1. Increase access to mental health information and resources.
  2. Create a sense of community for people, especially those feeling isolated.
  3. Reduce the stigma around mental health by encouraging conversations.

Bringing People Together

Dr. Martin began Tea and Therapy in April 2018 by inviting people in her community to a local tea house to host conversations around mental health.

“I lived near a small, minority-owned tea house in Indianapolis with a Harlem Renaissance vibe that was the perfect place to start Tea and Therapy,” Dr. Martin said.

Tea and Therapy was not intended to be group therapy, but a community workshop where people can hear about and discuss issues and experiences related to mental health.

“From that, there was an organic unfolding,” Dr. Martin said. “Different people came across education and income levels. And people would stay afterwards to continue the dialogue and connect.”

The events are held on the 4th Saturday of every month and have covered a wide range of topics from trauma training, to workshops on microaggressions, stress management, relationships, intersectionality, and social justice. Dr. Martin develops themes she gathers from her clinical practice, current events, and social justice issues.

Taking Tea and Therapy Online

“Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this work,” Dr. Martin said. “Tea and Therapy turned virtual when the pandemic hit, and shops closed. Even though the tea house has now reopened, it’s safer to continue these events online.”

In addition to taking the workshops online, she continues to look for ways to “branch out and get this information out there” and create a community. She launched the podcast and released a journal, Sips of Tea: A Journal for Self Reflection.

Though it has been unfortunate not to have in-person events, Dr. Martin has seen some positive outcomes to going online.

“The interest in Tea and Therapy has definitely increased, and I foresee that going online has allowed me the opportunity to expand offerings and access,” Dr. Martin said. “With the podcast, I also try to include community voices. I try to give people space, get speakers to talk about current issues, and things happening in the community to elevate community voices.”

Finding Community During a Pandemic

Dr. Martin recommends that others who are lacking a feeling of community during the pandemic think about how they define community and what activities bring them joy.

“When my clients come to me, and their self-esteem and confidence are low, I ask them, ‘When was the last time your self-esteem and confidence was high?’” Dr. Martin said. “I recommend that they go back to those activities or events.”

After identifying the communities and activities, Dr. Martin suggests looking for ways to adapt them to be COVID-19 safe.

Dr. Martin, for example, has a dance background and has found a community of fellow dancers online. “I enjoy dancing, so for community during the pandemic, I have gone online and looked for dance classes,” Dr. Martin said. “I now have a regular routine of going to dance classes that are presented virtually from New York. I have Zoom fatigue, but it’s different when I am dancing.”

“These interactions might look different,” Dr. Martin said, “but they are still helping build connections and community.”

 

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