Sherel Griffiths is a life-long high achiever
With her newly minted degree (Master of Science Applied-Couple and Family Therapy) from McGill University and over 15 years of experience as a social worker, Sherel Griffiths, a young Montrealer of Jamaican origins, feels well-equipped to bring professional support to those who are caught in the throes of emotional crises in our community.
“The truth is, the need is there because so many people in our community are dealing with what we can refer to as minority stress… the daily micro-aggression of racism,” she told the CONTACT in a recent telephone conversation. “My hope is to be a voice for our community in the area of couple and family therapy because there’re not a lot of trained therapists of color in Montreal.”
Griffiths, who worked extensively as a social worker with various public health and social service institutions, says it’s difficult for those who are not part of our community to relate to some of the basic traumas faced by people of color.
“A lot of them are just not trained in transcultural therapy and many instances resort to typical western responses when dealing with issues that are unique to people in our community. And if you were to talk to them about the frustrations of being followed around a store… they might think you’re being paranoid. Or about tiredness and body-aches… they might see weakness, (because Blacks are always supposed to be a wall of strength.)”
She also says it’s vitally important for the community to have access to trained professionals with whom they can relate.
Her private practice, which she hopes to launch by the fall, will be built around couple and family therapy in keeping with her advance training.
“What I’m offering is significantly different from the social work interventions that many Black families are accustomed to. My service is a treatment-based approach and goes beyond counseling. In other words, we work through the trauma with the client.”
As a long-standing high-achiever in the discipline, Griffiths earned commendations throughout her studies at Vanier College as well as at McGill University, where she earned her B.A and Master’s of Social Work degrees with distinction.
Over the years she worked with Batshaw Youth and Family Centres as well as with CIUSS- CLSC Benny Farm and Rene Cassin.
She says her wealth of education, training, as well as work and life experiences have helped to identify the areas that will be the focus of her private practice.
“Mental health is important to me because of the number people from our community and other ethno-cultural groups, I’ve been seeing in distress.”
Griffiths says mental health remains a taboo in our community and she is confident of her ability to bring a proper understanding to the complexity of the disease.
She will also focus on inter-generational trauma faced by many families because of what she describes as “the disrupted attachment of children migrating from Caribbean and being raised in female single-headed households in Canada.”
She knows that she has the capacity to help.
“The area was the focus of my graduate research study and part of my lived-experience having lived my formative years spent in the care of maternal grandmother in Jamaica and immigrated to Canada at the age of nine to be reunited with my parents.”
She says she is also looking forward to working with racialized individuals from the LGBTQIA+ community whose “overlapping identities” are made even more confusing because of “ingrained messaging on sexuality” coming from the home and other places of influence such as the church.
As she prepares to put her education and skills to the disposal of the community, Griffiths looks back on multiple life-challenges, which she says helped to fortify and prepare her for the heavy mental lifting that comes with psycho-therapy.
“Yes, I had some difficulties in my life having to adjust to a new family reality when I moved to Canada at the age of nine. I also had a teenage pregnancy as part of that reality. But noting prevented me from me doing well at school and building a career. Now I’m ready to help others.”
She says she is also looking forward to building a network of therapists and other professionals in our community that will work to benefit individuals and contribute to strengthening Black families
Reach Sherel Griffiths at:sherelgriffiths@