Innopsych was birthed from Dr. Jackman’s own experiences and challenges during her search for a therapist. She knew she wanted a therapist who was a woman for color but the process proved itself to be a challenge. As she searched through website after website there were either too few therapists listed to choose from and/or there was no way to filter lists by ethnicity. The process then became lengthy and cumbersome. Whenever she did find someone that she liked who fit the criteria, they were either “not taking new clients” or they did not take her insurance.
She knew that there needed to be a simpler and faster way for people of color to find therapists of color and she was going to create it! Not only did she want to create a directory of therapists of color, but she also wanted to facilitate the process for therapists of color to launch their own private practice in order to increase the pool of therapists of color in the field.
Charmain F. Jackman, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist of Barbadian heritage and the Founder & CEO of InnoPsych, Inc. Growing up in a culture where the stigma of mental health was pervasive, but images of therapists of color were not, she decided that she was going to change that. Dr. J has spent the last 20 years working with people of color (POCs) in hospitals, clinics, courts, and schools, and one consistent point that she has observed is that POCs long for therapists who look like them—who understand them and who will do right by them! That knowledge has inspired Dr. J to make it easier for POCs to find therapists of color! She also wants to change the negative views of therapy and to educate POCs about the necessity of taking care of their mental health and to empower communities to heal.
The story of Sankofa
Sankofa is a mythical bird with origins in Ghanaian folklore, which means (in Twi) “go back and get it.” The Akan proverb, “se wo were fi na wosan kofa a yenki,” with the translation: “it is not taboo to go back and fetch what you forgot or left behind” is commonly associated with Sankofa. The Sankofa bird is typically depicted with its feet facing forward and its head turned backward picking up an egg from its back. The idea of looking back or reflecting on the past to inform the future is the cornerstone of the therapeutic process, which is why the Sankofa bird is a fitting image for InnoPsych, Inc. As therapists, we use client reflections to build new narratives for the future and to ensure that we are not repeating past mistakes. In our rendition of the Sankofa bird, you will see that the bird is holding a lavender plant in its mouth. We chose the lavender plant (instead of an egg) because of its relaxing and calming properties and its
symbolic representation for healing. Communities of color have experienced significant traumas, and we must engage in strategies that will bring about healing for future generations. As the Sankofa bird looks back on the past, it will bring healing to the future.
African folktale of Sankofa:
The story begins with a bird named Sankofa. She grows up in her community being confident in herself and loving life. One day, she decides to sneak away from her village. When she does, she
meets a bird who insults her and causes her to doubt herself. Sankofa has to return to her village in order to find herself again and confront this “voice” of the big bird. She is supported by all of her friends and ancestors. When she returns to the bird with her own sense of self-knowledge, the other bird disappears. When she returns back to her village, her image is carved so that other youth in the village can remember her and her story. Because she had forgotten from where she came, Sankofa was carved with her neck turned backwards.