Counselor Education Graduate Student’s Research Focuses on ‘Strong Black Woman Schema’

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Chulyndria “Lyn” Laye

When Chulindria “Lin” Lei became a licensed consultant in July 2020, she immediately began a private practice focused on the mental health of residents of her hometown of Dumas, Arkansas.

She now lives in Rogers, but maintains contact with the Arkansas Delta area. Lay held several community events there as part of his Purple WINGS Counseling Services practice. WINGS is an acronym for “Working to Inspire and Educate the Big Self.” “This is what I strive for both as a therapist and as a researcher and as a future educator,” she said.

Lay also works at Eason Counseling and Associates in Rogers and is a doctoral student in the Counselor Education and Supervision program at U of A. She received a bachelor’s degree in child development from U of A in 2011 and a master’s degree in psychology counseling from the University Capella. She has extensive training in the Office of Game Therapy U of A and in 2021 graduated from the Academy of Leaders of the National Association of Game Therapy.

Leigh is an advocate for mental health for all, but she is particularly attracted to helping children, adolescents, and adults in underrepresented communities. Her doctoral research focuses on the “strong black woman scheme”.

“The scheme of a strong black woman and the mental health of black women is something that is close and dear to my heart,” she said. “The SBW scheme is defined as the ideal way black women should act, and it is determined by the characteristics of emotional restraint, independence and care.”

These social roles are usually considered a “good thing” and what black women should be, Lei said. But a sense of being limited by these roles can cause emotional stress in black women, which often leads to mental health conditions.

“Black women are starting to notice that while this idea of ​​being strong is positive, it is also a reflection of negative feelings and perpetuation of horrible stereotypes created by other groups,” Leigh said. “This study is personal to me because it relates to the world I live in every day, and I so desperately want to be able to fully understand how to better serve people who are like me in therapy.”

Lay said U.S. history has shown African Americans that they cannot trust research, medicine or research. She referred to Taskiga’s experiments, where the US government conducted unethical experiments on black men from 1932 to 1972. African Americans often believe that seeking physical or mental health services is taboo, she said.

“In fact, in most situations we often feel that the therapist can’t understand us, and we tend to have bad experiences when we participate in sessions,” she said.

Lay helps bridge that gap.

She became interested in counseling while studying at a preschool for children from underprivileged groups. She noticed how her students act out scenarios from their lives while playing with other children. She said they were clearly struggling but seemed unable to express their emotions. She began her own research. “I wanted to help them find a voice, help strengthen their confidence and give them a safe space to express themselves,” Lay said. “This study led me to game therapy, which led to a master’s degree in counseling psychology, and the rest – history.”

She wants to help African Americans of all ages just as she has sought to help the children she cares for. “I want to give them a safe space to express themselves and the confidence to explore their thoughts, feelings and emotions,” she said.

This story is the latest in a series called “The Dean’s Focus” featuring outstanding students of the College of Education and Health. Visit the online journal COEHP Colleague to get more news from the six departments that make up the college. Visit the Education and Supervision Advisors page for more information on COEHP counseling programs.

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