Meet Tolonda Tate, a psychotherapist and the founder of Tallahassee-based New Day New You Counseling and Education Services.
Tate, with multiple degrees and certifications under her belt, has been in practice for 21 years. She has a passion to help people and truly understand them.
“I help with emotional healing and understanding that a bad moment does not equate a bad life,” Tate said.
Born in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and raised in Gordo, Ala., Tate always wanted to become a therapist. From an early age, she realized that being compassionate and empathetic were gifts that came nataurally to her.
Tate watched her mother and other family members work for a local inpatient residential facility that treated people who suffered from severe mental illness and other disabilities. From there, she knew there was so much more she wanted to learn about mental health.
Tate followed her dream career path and attended Alabama A&M University, where she majored in psychology and criminal justice. She went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees at Nova Southeastern University.
“Therapy allows you to be authentic, open and honest with yourself,” Tate said.
From Tate’s perspective, everyone could benefit from therapy. She believes therapy can provide people with the necessary tools to help navigate through tough times that life can throw at us. It can influence one’s interactions with other people and “teach effective problem-solving techniques.”
One of Tate’s patients, Victoria Hernandez, says she feels like she can be one hundred percent vulnerable in her sessions. Tate makes therapy relatable and comfortable for her. Even outside of their sessions, Tate’s different methods of therapy are helpful through various exercises and homework assignments.
“It feels as though she wants to protect me from some of the things I am dealing with, because she genuinely cares about me,” said Hernandez.
As a therapist, Tate’s goal is to encourage, motivate and help individuals learn more about their innermost self, and love it. She wants them to know that they are “not broken, we all have cracks,” and those cracks can be fixed.
“My goal each day is to reach at least one person. I walk away each day, knowing I gave one hundred percent to each person,” Tate said.
Tate acknowledges that Black people tend to seek therapists who are Black. She says that the stigma surrounding mental health has definitely set Black people back tremendously.
For many Blacks, it is seen as a weakness to just ask for help – when in fact, it is not. Some choose to suffer in silence because they are too proud to ask for help and not only is that a problem, but also there is a trust issue involved.
“There is a cultural mistrust embedded within African-American identity, therefore working with someone with a shared racial identity creates a more comfortable environment,” Tate said.
Tate said that the root of a person’s problem can be found when they can talk about their issues, without having to translate their culture. To further elaborate, she gave the example of a patient saying, “You know how it is with Black moms,” and understanding what the patient meant from there.
“As of 2019, only 3 percent of the psychology workforce in the U.S. is Black, yet many people are specifically seeking a Black therapist,” according to Patrice Gaines, a freelance journalist.
Eight percent of Tate’s patients are Black and she sees a mixture of all ages, starting at the young age of 7. Since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a surge in college students coming to see her.
When Tate is not assisting others, she enjoys her “self-care” time. She is adamant about evolving every day, as she learns to invest in herself and find her inner peace. She loves Alabama football even though she lives in Tallahassee, where it is mostly Rattlers and Seminoles fans.
She also has a teacup yorkie, who, in Tate’s words, is “uncomplicated, simple, and offers unconditional love.”
Tate is pleased to know that a sense of comfort is present once a patient sees that the therapist has the same skin as them. She wants to continue to educate others on the stigma surrounding therapy, hoping to repair the lack of trust toward therapy.