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Ce Anderson is Championing Culturally Competent Mental Health Care

Ce Anderson is Championing Culturally Competent Mental Health Care

Ce Anderson headshot

Trauma expert and D.C. native Candyce ‘Ce’ Anderson, M.S., LP.C. has often referred to her career in the mental health field as more of a calling than a job. As a licensed therapist and the founder of Revita Therapy and Wellness in Montgomery, Alabama, Anderson has over a decade of clinical experience working closely with patients in Alabama, Georgia, and D.C. to provide individualized and culturally competent mental health treatment.

But Anderson’s impact expands far beyond her practice. Outspoken about her own experiences as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault, Anderson has made a point to share her expertise with a broader audience; in 2016, she released Love T.A.P.S., Red Flags of an Abuser and How to Get Out, a self-help guide backed by clinical knowledge on spotting the warning signs of abuse and finding safe solutions for victims. She has provided expert opinion to national publications including The Washington Post, NBC, and NPR, and participates in frequent speaking engagements, including a 2021 TEDx Talk on overcoming fear. 

In 2023, Anderson’s expertise and advocacy culminated in the first Feminine Flow Experience, a conference and retreat led by professionals in mental health and wellness to provide a space centered on the experiences of Black women in health. 

The conference garnered media attention due to its coincidence with the Montgomery Brawl, a fight that broke out on the Montgomery Riverfront on August 5. A few hours before unrest ensued, Anderson led conference participants to the waterfront for an ancestral veneration ceremony in which flower petals were tossed into the river – an act that was inaccurately described online as witchcraft.

Ahead of the second annual Feminine Flow Experience on August 2, we sat down with Ce Anderson to learn more about her professional journey, how Feminine Flow came to be, and the importance of creating spaces for culturally competent, individualized care in the mental health field. 

trauma expert Ce Anderson poses in a chair

JNL: What was it that initially drew you to the mental health field and when did you realize that this was your calling?

CA: Initially I wanted to be an orthodontist, so I spent the first three years of college as a biology major. And I had an experience where I got to shadow at our university’s hospital, and it was bloody and I just realized, ‘oh, this isn’t for me.’ Right before my senior year, I took a couple of classes – tried some anthropology, did some psychology. And in my first psychology class, my professor mentioned something that shifted the healing of my own trauma. One of the things that he said was that, ‘somebody else’s recollection of your experience does not invalidate what you went through.’ All my life, I have been told by those around me that what I felt, what I saw, what I experienced either didn’t happen or was minimized. I said, wow, if this is what psychology does – if it can create such a shift for me – just imagine, what can it do for other people? And so my journey began there. It was very much initiated and instigated by my own healing.

JNL: Did you always anticipate that you would expand your role – from therapist to author, public speaker, and expert  – in the way you have today?

CA: The environment in which I grew up didn’t do a good job of making me secure in who I was. Because I was such an overachiever in high school, I had a lot of opportunities to communicate so I was never really shy, but I didn’t necessarily understand the impact of my voice and my ability to tell stories. I wasn’t really aware of that until maybe the last 5 years or so. It happens every time I speak. I get people, men and women that approach me after and they are visibly moved. And so now I recognize the power of my voice.

JNL: At your practice, Revita Therapy and Wellness, you provide holistic treatments like Reiki in addition to more traditional psychoanalytic treatment. How did you decide that you wanted to incorporate those practices into the offerings for your clients?

CA: Nothing fits everybody. No group of people is a monolith. The question is always, ‘What’s your theoretical orientation?’ and mine has always been integrated because I want to treat the person. I want to speak to the person. While I have an immense amount of clinical knowledge based on texts, I think that my own intuition shows up a lot and oftentimes guides the way that I amalgamate what’s needed for a particular person. What is this person struggling the most with? And what are we not seeing on the surface?  

I believe that my ability to bring in somebody’s spirituality, whether it’s somebody’s need for crystals or their belief system around religion, or whether it’s not any of those things, but it’s just something that is cultural and a cultural practice, is treating the whole person. It’s supporting the whole person because the whole person experiences the trauma or the issue that brought them in the room.

JNL: A big focus of Revita is providing culturally competent care – you mention on the website that only about 4% of psychotherapists in the U.S. are Black women, and we know that Black women are less likely to receive mental health treatment than their white female peers. How has it been for you navigating a profession where you find yourself in the minority of practitioners, and how has that impacted the care that you provide for your clients? 

CA: I’ve always been very attuned to who I am in this world. I’ve always been very attuned to marginalized people as we try to navigate living in not only this world, but if we speak more specifically about Western culture and how Western culture is often oppressive, whether intentionally or whether unintentionally. With that, it’s important to me that I give the same sort of support that I needed and that I’ve received in the past and that I would want to receive in the future.

So when we talk about culturally competent care for me, it means that the individual who is sitting across from me is the expert on their life and they are the individual that is leading the work. And it is not me.

Part of that cultural competency often is educating people on biases or things that they were not aware of. It all works together. And so cultural competency is the touchstone that spearheaded the establishment of Revita. Because I was seeing women that looked like me, I was seeing my Latino sisters that would come in and have an experience with a non-POC therapist and they would say, ‘they said or they did this thing and they have no idea how it impacted me.’ I wanted to create a space where folks could come and feel at home.

JNL: Speaking of safe spaces, could you tell us about the inspiration behind the Feminine Flow Experience? 

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CA: So the inaugural event in August of 2023 was based upon a vision that I had been given in my prayer and meditation time. I really understood that women, because we hold such a sacred role in life, that we needed a place that wasn’t just words, but that was deeply transformative and healing in a way that most people never get to touch. That holistic approach came into play because it was mental, emotional, and physical. 

JNL: We’ve heard you speak about the Montgomery Brawl and how you feel as though its co-occurrence with the Feminine Flow Experience may have prevented further violence from ensuing. Is this something that you want to acknowledge during the Feminine Flow Experience in the future? 

CA: We always want to be aware of and give remembrance to significant occurrences. And my goal is always to say, ‘Here is how we shift the atmosphere. Here is how deep work and connectivity can change and support insecure people.’ So I think I will always kind of hearken back to that particular experience as I continue with Feminine Flow. 

JNL: Do you have any other hopes of how the conference will continue to grow? 

CA: Because we know the history of oppression of women in this country, I would love for it to become a space where women come just to be and to develop and cultivate connection with other women who are safe.

JNL: In addition to cultivating that connection, what do you hope attendees take away from the retreat?

CA: I hope that they take away renewal. And when I say renewal, I mean it in every sense of the word, as them understanding that before you walked into this space or before you had this experience, you were not who you are right now.  And that change is always within reach. It doesn’t matter your age. It doesn’t matter your socioeconomic status. It doesn’t matter your level of education. It doesn’t matter who your mother was. That once you walk into this space, the things that you experience no longer drive or run your life and that you are now taking control and being empowered to move and curating, co-creating the kind of life that you’ve always desired. That is my hope for those who attend.

JNL: You’re already building that legacy of empowerment. As you look forward to the future of your own career, what do you hope to continue to do with your work?

CA: I tell people all the time that this isn’t a job for me. If it was a job, I would have burnt out a long time ago. It’s very much my soul. I have seen this as opportunity for other people in tremendous amounts of pain and suffering and at the edge of their life to be pulled back, being healed, being renewed and transformed in a way that most people only dream of experiencing. So for me, the legacy is this hard work continuing to impact the masses. My intention is that the quality only improves as the audience grows and that the work always remains center for me. That’s the legacy. That’s the legacy.

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