Montco therapist uses nature to expand mental healthcare for Black clients

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Montgomery County therapist helps Black people find mental healthcare while using…

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Montgomery County therapist helps Black people find mental healthcare while using education and nature to fight stigma. 

“He passed Christmas Eve 2020,” said Jessica Barbour, of Philadelphia, who lost her father, Joseph, during the first year of the COVID pandemic.  

The man died of causes not related to the pandemic. The grief drove the woman to look for help. 

“The trauma of looking for therapy sometimes worse than the trauma you experienced that brought you to need therapy,” Barbour said.  


Barbour found herself on a nine-month waitlist for several therapists. She says one provider tried to push prescription medication during the first intake meeting. 

“I explained to them that that wasn’t something I was interested in. I would answer the questions, but that is not where I was at. The response I got was, ‘If you don’t want help, find somebody else,'” Barbour said.  

After a frustrating search, Barbour found Relinquish and Transcend Counseling on Instagram. She also found eco-therapy, with sessions in places like Wissahickon Valley Park. She says her therapist understands her as a Black woman.  

“Just someone who is relatable, and you can have a comfortable conversation, Barbour said.  

Licensed Professional Counselor Jummy Kirby started Relinquish and Transcend and offers services from several other therapists in the practice. She encourages everyone to look for the therapist that suits their unique needs. She also stresses clients never have to stay with any therapist. 

“And unfortunately sometimes, it’s not a good fit and that’s OK, so just having other providers outside R&T,” Kirby said. “Just try it out for a month, to see if you like it. If you don’t, it’s OK.”  

She says people of color need to ask whatever questions necessary to find out if a therapist is a good fit. 

For example: 

“‘How do you feel about racial trauma?’ And seeing where the therapist’s head is at,” Kirby said. 

Kirby’s mission is to make therapy accessible to all while making sure no one is afraid to speak up for their needs. 

“Because you can be healed, you can be healed, you can be healed, you know? We can all be healed together,” Kirby said.  

While Barbour still greatly misses her father, she gives herself credit for dealing with the pain in a positive way. 

“He would always say, ‘People never die as long as you keep talking about them and they’ve planted a seed within you,'” she said as she smiled. “I think he would be proud. I think I am doing him justice.”