I want other people — particularly black people and people of color — to have access to being seen, heard and healed too. Our community can often get stuck in thinking that getting support means we’re weak, we don’t have enough faith or that something is wrong with us. We also have to deal with potential conscious or unconscious bias from non-poc therapists and potential disconnects in professionals not really understanding the context in which we come — -our realities, our way of thinking, our unique experiences. There are so many barriers that can get in the way of our getting help before we even get started and this motivates and moves me deeply to do my part in dismantling these barriers.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Aiyana Ma’at. Wife. Mother. Sister. Daughter. Aunt. Healer. Therapist. Teacher. Speaker. Entrepreneur. Funny. Real. Jokester. Down To Earth. Dynamic….These are all words that have been used to describe Aiyana. Aiyana is a Licensed Psycho-therapist & Clinical Social Worker in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. She is also a certified Marriage & Relationship Educator specializing in couples & family work. She firmly believes that relationships are the vehicles we can all use to grow and evolve. She is clear that a part of the call on her life is to help bring insight and awareness to others so that they can “get out of their own way” and create the lives and relationships they want and deserve to have. She’s always been turned on by what it takes to overcome inner obstacles and bring out the best in one’s self. When Aiyana is not obsessing about how to more effectively help others she can be found kicking back with a glass of wine, cracking jokes and eating crabs while hanging with the loves of her life — the ones that keep her grounded and grateful — her hot husband, Ayize, and their 5 beautiful & brilliant children.
Thank you so much for joining us Aiyana. Can you tell us how you began your career path as a licensed therapist? Was it something you always wanted to do?
Iwouldn’t say it was something I always wanted to do but I do think that I was very impacted by the example of my mother. She is a therapist as well and is still seeing people to this day. She never attempted to influence me or steer me in this direction but we are both very much alike and I knew early on I wanted to be able to impact lives and help people heal.
Can you share your story of how and why you began your company?
I started Perspective for a few reasons but the first reason comes out of my personal experience. I struggled during my childhood and struggled even more during adolescence. I experienced intense loneliness as a child and have dealt with deep issues of abandonment and rejection much of my life. My saving grace came when my mom started me in therapy as a teenager. It was literally life-changing for me. I want other people — particularly black people and people of color — to have access to being seen, heard and healed too. Our community can often get stuck in thinking that getting support means we’re weak, we don’t have enough faith or that something is wrong with us. We also have to deal with potential conscious or unconscious bias from non-poc therapists and potential disconnects in professionals not really understanding the context in which we come — -our realities, our way of thinking, our unique experiences. There are so many barriers that can get in the way of our getting help before we even get started and this motivates and moves me deeply to do my part in dismantling these barriers.
Did you experience any hard times when you first started your journey founding the company?
Absolutely. And, I’m still navigating this space. I think the most significant difficulty lies in the lack of capital and funding that I came to the table with. As an entrepreneur securing capital and resources to push your dream forward is an ongoing challenge & priority.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I remember my why. I learned a long time ago that I must have a deep connection to and passion for whatever I commit myself to doing — otherwise my ability to withstand the tough times would be hard. I am a naturally driven and ambitious person but my desire to fulfill my purpose and do my part in providing a safe space for black people to do their healing work is what drives me the most.
What did you do to turn things around when things got rough?
I recognize that “success” and “failure” or “challenge” are relative. Every decision I make and the path I take on this journey is leading to the next step on my entrepreneurial path and I know that just moving forward day by day is a success. What I challenge myself to “turn around” the most consistently to get to the next step on the success ladder is my thinking. What I mean by this is that I really believe that my mindset and attitude matter more than anything. I am clear that there is nothing my company can’t overcome when things are rough as long as I stay focused and nimble.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
My Co-founder and husband, Ayize Ma’at, has always been a steady and consistent force for good along the way. He has lifted me up when I was unsure or uncertain. He has kept me grounded and is my #1 business advisor and confidante as we build this company one brick at a time. The fact that he is the love of my life just makes my work all that more gratifying.
How do you think what you are doing can be a game-changer for the African American community?
One of the things that we are very much focused on at Perspective is destroying the stigma around therapy in the black community and reinforcing that it really is Ok to get help when you need it. The counseling platform will allow for people to be able to start the process of counseling in a way that takes the pressure off and allows you to engage at your own pace in your own way. Whether by video, audio, or secure messaging — -not having to deal with the heavy-lift that people often feel when getting started is going to be huge. You can simply just get on your computer or pick up your tablet or phone. The fact that you can trust that you’ll receive care from a culturally competent counselor who will genuinely meet you where you are is absolutely freeing!
I think it will bring the goodness of transparency, vulnerability and healing to the world….these are all amazingly good things in my book.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs or founders to thrive?
I have 2 pieces of advice. #1 Make sure you are passionate and committed to the work that you are doing because when things get tough — and they will — you will need to lean on that passion and #2 Remember that entrepreneurship and running a startup is a marathon — not a sprint. So, prepare to be patient. Persistence always pays off.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
It would be the Tell Your Truth movement! If everyone were more willing to share their genuine feelings and experiences we would all be the better for it. We could all learn from one another and learn to hold space for others. Holding onto our truth (whatever that may be) and stuffing it down is not only toxic and unhealthy — it creates dysfunction and disease too. So, I would definitely love to inspire the Tell Your Truth movement. 🙂
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite life lesson quotes is “What you’re most afraid of doing is oftentimes the very thing that sets you free”. I’ve had to battle a lot of self-doubt and fear as I’ve set out to accomplish building this business and there have been crossroads moments where I realize “Wow. I’m scared but I’m doing it. Look at me! “ The more I manage my fear the further I get and I’m just so grateful for the journey.
How can our readers follow your company on social media?
Readers can connect with us on Facebook by joining our Therapy For Black Folks By Perspective Facebook group. They can also connect by following our Instagram page @therapyforblackfolks