Stacy recommends: The Homecoming Podcast with Dr. Thema

Title: The Homecoming Podcast with Dr. Thema

Date of first episode: July 5, 2019

Frequency: Weekly

Length of each weekly episode: Around 30 minutes

Where you can find it: I listen to it on Podtail, but it is available on multiple platforms, including Soundcloud (https://m.soundcloud.com/dr-thema-bryant-davis). Google “Dr. Thema Homecoming Podcast”

The host: Thema Bryant-Davis, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, minister, and sacred artist

Something about the host that might surprise you: She is a dancer, a choreographer, and an award-winning slam poet.

Cool fact: We were both undergraduates at Duke University at the same time and were in a class together at one point. I did not know her personally, but I remember her clearly. She had an amazing presence even then.

The gist: Bryant-Davis offers empowering advice on how to work through the insecurities and fears that can keep us in jobs, relationships, and situations that are harmful to our well being and that prevent us from moving forward. Noting that many people are going through life “disconnected” from their true selves, she offers the listener strategies for getting back home – home being a place of wholeness where a person can live in the fullness of their potential.

Bryant-Davis is well known in the field of sociocultural and racial trauma. An important message in the podcast is that societal messaging and conditioning matter and that we have to be very intentional about rejecting racist, sexist, and homophobic messaging.

An important piece of wisdom from the podcast: “It is a dangerous thing to spend time with people who prefer your mask. It is a dangerous thing to spend time with people who like it when you pretend” (Bryant-Davis, Episode 2, “Check Your Circle”).

Something new I learned from listening: There is a tradition in psychology of only focusing on the individual and not broader societal forces, but there is another approach to psychology, a more sociocritical one, that is challenging that old-school perspective (per Bryant-Davis, Episode 1, “Homesick and Disconnected from Ourselves”).

“There are some bloody pages in my story, but I want you to know something – the blood on my pages is not the end of my story.”

– Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis, (from Episode 14, “Healing Intergenerational Trauma”)

Something else I learned about: The concepts of “beautyism” (bias based on perceived physical attractiveness) and “womanist psychology,” (I am still trying to understand what this entails, but I find the idea of combining womanist thought with the practice of psychology very intriguing) and the term “symptom substitution” (getting past one issue only to replace it with another – for example, giving up drinking and then taking up smoking).

Key episodes: Honestly, all of the episodes I have listened to are superb. One of the recent ones, “Activate Your Life Right Now” (Episode 58), really inspired me to get moving on some things that I had put on the back burner.

Why I recommend it: As a trained mental health professional and a survivor of assault, Bryant-Davis speaks from knowledge and experience. Her approach is non-condescending, and her advice is informed by both research and practice. Bryant-Davis has a gift for making things real. She uses stories from the real world – including her own life – to illustrate important concepts. She encourages actual behavioral change by assigning homework. One of my favorite assignments is the one where she asks you to write vows to yourself. She even periodically reads the vows that her readers have sent to her by email.

Bryant-Davis is both a trained psychologist and a trained minister. She references God and spirituality at times, but she does not beat you over the head with it. I say this as a non-churchgoing, nonreligious listener. I like that she takes a critical view of church dogma and encourages openness rather than exclusion.

Who should listen: I truly believe that anyone can benefit from the lessons Bryant-Davis has to teach. People recovering from trauma or transitioning out of difficult life situations may find her words especially helpful.

If you want more: Bryant-Davis has published numerous academic papers and several books. You can find her work listed in Google Scholar or on her website, drthema.com.

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