Life has a funny way of leading you exactly where you’re supposed to be. Dr. Keisha Downey, Family and Marriage Therapist on VH1’s Couples Therapy, didn’t always set out to be licensed therapist. As a teen, she always found herself giving advice to family and friends and she loved working with people. But it wasn’t until after undergrad that her gift started shining through and she was led by passion into the counseling field.
In addition to Couples Therapy, Dr. Keisha Downey also runs a successful private practice in Beverly Hills, and is a mental health therapist for the Department of Mental Health where she works with foster care youth and assists with reuniting them with their parents. She also works with colleagues, Dr. Allycin Hicks and Aaron Bernard, MS at Lyndon, Lyndsey and Laroi a creative consulting firm, where they offer services for public speaking, workshops and life coaching. Dr. Keisha Downey is also is a firm believer in educating the masses and enjoys serving on mental health panels.
As she was running through her self-described one hundred million jobs; I was appreciative for the time she took as she shared a little bit about herself, her life and her work for you, the Parlé readers:
Parlé Magazine: Inquiring minds want to know? How did you get involved with Dr. Jenn Mann and VH1’s Couples Therapy?
Dr. Downey: One of my mentors referred me to the show. She thought I’d be a good fit and after a couple interviews, I was selected to be a part of Dr. Jenn Mann’s treatment team. I’m a resident treatment counselor and I’ve been on for four seasons.
Parlé Mag: What have you learned from being on the TV show, versus working in a traditional counseling setting?
Dr. Downey: I have learned so much. Celebrities are real people with real issues. Dr. Jenn Mann does a phenomenal job working with the celebrities on the show and I do my best to assist as one of her treatment counselors. As for my private practice is concerned, my approach is to get to know my clients by going back from their childhood, to present. This helps me to assess their problems. I meet with my clients weekly. Therefore, I get more time with the clients to build a therapeutic relationship.
Parlé Mag: Often there is a stigma associated with couple’s therapy. How do you get people to look past this and come in for help?
Dr. Downey: Surprisingly, the perception is changing. Men are calling me to initiate the services more in the past two years. They are asking more questions and setting the appointments for them and their partner. In the African American community, there is a huge taboo attached to therapy. To break through that, I approach the sessions as neutral. I’m not on the man’s side or the woman’s side and I come in on a non-judgmental platform; setting the stage to benefit both of them.
Parlé Mag: In your professional opinion, when should people seek services?
Dr. Downey: Sometimes this is forgotten, but services should start with pre-marital counseling. But if you’re past that point and you’ve reached a disconnect in your relationship; counseling should be sought out. When couples don’t know each other, it leads to issues that can develop into problems with finances, parenting, personal habits, trust, religion, roles and lack of communication.
Parlé Mag: Clearly, you’re one busy woman, how do you find a balance and not lose yourself?
Dr. Downey: I credit my school for really emphasizing to us to leave our clients issues at the door and I’m really good at that. I don’t take it home with me; I have an empathic side but I can separate it. I’ve learned to take time out for myself and to exercise more, and meditate. I go out with friends, spend time with family and travel. I love going back home to North Chicago and just being up under my grandmother. That’s peaceful to me because she keeps me grounded. I also smile a lot and give hugs. That makes me feel good.
As the interview was coming to a close, I took a brief moment to ask Dr. Keisha Downey a couple questions she wasn’t expecting and her responses were refreshing:
Parlé Mag: If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?
Dr. Downey: To read a man’s mind. I’m curious about how they think and operate. I’d really like to see how they view themselves, others and the world.
Parlé Mag: If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Dr. Downey: I would tell young Keisha to take your time, practice patience because life isn’t going anywhere.
It’s always a pleasure when I get to chat with someone insightful who delivers a message that can transcend community-wide. Dr. Keisha Downey epitomized this and wanted to share with our Parlé readers that if you or someone you know is suffering from a mental illness—that mental health services are available. Reach out and talk to someone or get the help that your loved one needs.