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Meet Joi Britt of The Joi of Social Work Podcast & Life Intentionally Psychotherapy Services

Today we’d like to introduce you to Joi Britt.

Joi, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I often like to quote fellow Bronx native Cardi B and say, “I am a regular degular shmegular girl from the Bronx.” However, I am far more than regular, degular or shmegular! I am Joi! I am a Black woman from the Bronx, LCSW, entrepreneur, mother and fatherless daughter, podcaster, widow with no ring, advocate of destroying mental health stigma, friend, cousin, mentor, role model and feeler of all the feels. The last 11 years have made me who I am. If I dig deeper, I would say my experience with being an active listener from a young age led me to social work. Two years after graduating undergrad; with little to no professional progression and a lot of student loan debt; I decided to go back for my MSW. Because I had to work full time, I needed to go to school part-time which took a lot longer but I think was the pace I needed as life was challenging during those four years.

While in grad school both of my parents died! None of us are really taught how to grieve so I kept going. Thankfully I have an amazing support system that was there through it all, but there were still many crying nights and days of hopelessness. Honestly, sometimes that still exists.

Even though I have always loved being a Social Worker, my love for the profession has grown. I started as a Health Educator, went to being a Preventive Services Case Planner to a High School Social Worker and lastly to an Elementary School Social Work Director. Four days before it was announced NYC schools would close due to COVID-19 I put in my letter of resignation. I am not working full time at my private practice – Life Intentionally Psychotherapy Services.

I am also a podcaster! The Joi of Social Work Podcast was birthed after the death of my boyfriend Rasheem. Yes, more loss that has shaped me! On my podcast, I talk about mental health, my life and all the things in between with very little filter. My friend Christine suggested podcasting as a way for me to heal while sharing my experiences with loss. She gave me a computer and mic and said text me once you save it! She really held my hand with the technical parts of the podcast while always encouraging me to just be honest and real; which I think I have done. The Joi of Social Work Podcast launched January 21, 2018 and is my favorite form for self-care.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road to where I am has been far from smooth! My mother was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Scleroderma when I was 13 years old. There was no cure or real answers to how she got this illness. At a very young age, I knew my mom wouldn’t have a long life. That anticipation that the person that gave you life could just die any day made me angry, hopeless and sad. I would also say my anxiety began at this point.

A few days after my 25th birthday my mom called to say she did not think my dad was breathing. I told her to call 911 and went over to their house. He wasn’t breathing. He was dead. My dad was so full of life! Everyone loved his energy and spirit. He would often say “the sickest don’t die the quickest.” I guess he was right. Less than two years later, my mom died due to complications from her Scleroderma. I was 26 with no parents, in graduate school and in an unhealthy relationship. Needless to say, I was a mess! Sadly, I couldn’t always express being a mess because I had to keep going. Oh, being a “strong Black woman” is a lot of work and I would challenge anyone who feels like they always have to be strong to sit back and feel. It will catch up to you at some point.

As things in life started to look up and I got into a healthy relationship, my journey became more professional. I wanted the voices of myself and Black coworkers to be heard more as we were educating children of color. I often felt shut up because of my skin. Told that “talking about race made it a thing.” Well, it was a thing and still is! I felt like I was hot on this battle for change and justice and in May 2017, my boyfriend died unexpectedly. I felt low and unsure how I would get past yet another loss. I was not in a good space!

Please tell us about The Joi of Social Work Podcast & Life Intentionally Psychotherapy Services.
Life Intentionally Psychotherapy Services is my private practice. My goal is to offer a space where people feel safe, seen and heard. Therapy can be scary and there is still so much stigma attached to it, especially in the Black community. A lot of my work has been with Black women about discrimination (direct and indirect) at work and how to navigate that. I also specialize in the areas of loss, depression and anxiety.

The Joi of Social Work Podcast provides listeners with a space to laugh, learn and connect. I share a lot about my life… maybe too much even, but it is because so many of us feel alone in the things we think and are experiencing. My goal was for one person to listen to my story and feel less alone. This continues to happen which I am very grateful for. I also want to eliminate the stigma associated with therapy and mental wellness. I am a therapist that goes to therapy! We have to heal from the things we don’t always talk about.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My friends are the best! My family that I am close with doesn’t live nearby so it is sometimes harder for them to be physically with me when I am in need. However, my friend literally have dropped what they were doing in order to be there for me during the most challenging times of my life. They are also always there to celebrate my successes and to cheer me on when I don’t feel that strong, smart or worthy. I am grateful for them!

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