Shani K. Saxon Breaking down barriers between race & mental health

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Shani Saxon, LMSW, is fulfilling her purpose in the universe and glows with enthusiasm as she illustrates all she does for individuals in the community.

“I love what I do, I completely love every part about it,” said Saxon, a licensed psychotherapist and owner of Turning Corners Consulting, Inc. in East Lansing. Saxon helps clients with a variety of mental health concerns and focuses on complex trauma.

Saxon first received her bachelor’s degree in human ecology from Michigan State University (MSU) with a focus on family and community service in 2003. She then returned to MSU for graduate school as a non-traditional student and completed her Masters in Social Work in 2009. Saxon has since immersed herself in humanitarian efforts and currently works to help people one-on-one and on a larger scale.

“In terms of social work, you can do micro or macro; right now, I actually do both. I do micro work, which is on a one-on-one individual basis, so that’s where my clinical practice comes in,” explained Saxon. “But, I also do policy work and that’s on a much larger scale. That’s work that deals with policy and organizations that will ultimately impact more than one person; more like thousands of people. I really enjoy doing that work.”

Saxon works closely with partner Marya Sosulski, Ph.D; the two do research that focuses on the intersections of race, education, gender and mental health for African American women with severe mental health illnesses.

“Black women have been, and continue to be, absent from research studies that might help them understand and identify their own emotional and mental voids. They are also at higher risk of internalizing powerlessness with the absence of limited or denied access to resources,” said Saxon. “Our research seeks to discover how the impact of culture and gender on the perception of mental illness continues to be a barrier to accessing quality mental health care for black women.”

The two facilitate workshops around Lansing that expand on their research, while helping people understand the origins of racial conflict and trauma from a human services perspective. The workshops provide a new perspective, for some, of racism and implicit bias in our community and communities across America.

“We spend time discussing how allies in various communities are able to assist in addressing privilege and oppression, and address and acknowledge hate crime concerns while promoting equal opportunity efforts that help communities, public agencies, businesses and schools prevent or eliminate illegal discrimination, bias and unfair practices,” Saxon elaborated.

Saxon and Sosulski not only work to educate and promote inclusion, social justice and equal opportunities for all members of the community, but use their sessions to focus on helping administrators and employees to address bias, unfair practices and discrimination in their communities and their workplace.

“We use experiential and interactive tools to accomplish this goal. This allows everyone that attends our presentation to gain an understanding of how bias impacts the people they serve and more importantly how to put that knowledge into action every day.”


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