Creating Space: Renfrew's BIPOC Community Support Group
Posted on December 02, 2020
When I was asked to lead a BIPOC Community Support Group, I responded before I had a chance to really process the request.
My gut reaction was "Yes, of course!"
With everything our communities have experienced over the past year, specifically communities of color, I knew it was an opportunity I wanted to be a part of.
Then I started to think about what it would mean to lead this group, specifically what it would mean to lead a group for everything the BIPOC community has been experiencing over the course of this past year. This became a little overwhelming! I thought to myself: "How should I go about addressing all the potential topics that could present themselves in a group like this one? The pandemic and how COVID-19 disproportionately impacts BIPOC communities? Quarantine and the impact on eating disorder symptoms and mental health? Systemic racism and social injustices, like Breonna Taylor?"
Ultimately, I realized what truly matters is that a space was being created for the BIPOC community to come as they are. This space would allow the community to address the topics the way they wanted, and the way they needed. I did not need to spend so much time thinking about how I would address something, but rather, needed to focus on maintaining the safety of the space to allow for those who entered, the opportunity to ask for support, grieve, struggle, succeed, and most importantly, make connections.
My hope is that is what we accomplished.
Robia Smith-Herman, LCSW
, is Team Leader and Student Supervisor at The Renfrew Center of Radnor, PA. She received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Africana Studies from Gettysburg College, and her Master's degree in Social Service with a Clinical Concentration from the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College. Specializing in the treatment of eating disorders and trauma, Ms. Smith-Herman has been with Renfrew for five years. Previously, she served as the Lead Clinician at NorthEast Treatment Centers, a treatment facility for substance abuse and co-occurring diagnoses.