HIGHLAND PARK, Mich.— Each one of them was heard and respected.
As a licensed therapist and professor at Wayne State University School of Social Work, Dr. Shantalea Johns approached her appearance as guest speaker at the SAY Detroit Family Health Clinic’s Wellness Wednesdays monthly support group with a goal of helping to improve the overall well-being of the nearly two dozen participants.
Attended by mostly seniors, one of the city’s most vulnerable populations, Johns challenged the women to take the time and work from the inside out when it comes to addressing thoughts, emotions and feelings.
“A lot of times, especially this generation, you’re told when you’re growing up not to feel,’’ Johns said. “Sometimes it shows up with a physical response. It’s important to know, what are your emotions telling you?’’
Speaking to a nearly full house at the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center, Johns’ personable and friendly style helped facilitate communication among the group. She didn’t lecture the participants but, rather, sat among the attendees with Alexis Harvey, who coordinates the monthly sessions for the SAY Clinic. The move definitely encouraged the group to be more participatory — they talked through lunch — with one attendee saying later that it “almost felt like a fireside chat.’’
“It was almost like we were breaking new ground with them,’’ Harvey said. “We’re definitely going to have a second session on this, and dig a little deeper.’’
The next Wellness Wednesdays session is scheduled for June 21 at the Ford Recreation Center in Highland Park. Registration will open next month.