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Member Spotlight

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Helen Clay-Spotser, PhD, LMSW, ACSW, CMFT, C-SSWS

What do you do?

I was initially trained as a Masters level, Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LMSW), and Certified Marriage and Family Therapist (CMFT). I am also credentialed with the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW) and I owned and operated a private psychotherapy practice called Psychotherapy Solutions, Inc. from 1986 to 2014. Since then, I have been employed as a Certified Special Education School Social Worker (C-SSWS) with the Detroit Public School Community District (DPSCD) for 23 years. I initially retired from DPSCD in 2010 after 19 years; however, I returned in 2017 due to the critical shortage of mental health providers in public schools. My job involves providing social and emotional interventions to children and adolescents kindergarten through 8th grade. I also administer special education evaluations for students with conditions such as Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Emotional Impairments (EI) and Other Health Impairments (OHI). I enjoy my job immensely and feel rewarded when my students understand their how their heritage influences their social development and when they can verbally express their progress and growth – socially, emotionally, personally, spiritually, and intellectually.

I obtained my PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from Walden University in 2015. Upon receiving this degree, I immediately joined the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology to enhance my skills in the profession (my third career path). Thus far, as an I/O psychologist I have regularly attended conferences where I network with other I/O leaders who have made significant contributions to the scientific study of the workplace. Professionally, I have collaborated with local Detroit businesses to use scientific methods to enhance their business practices and structure.

Involvement in ABPsi Detroit

I was inspired to join ABPsi Detroit approximately ten years ago. I identified with the organization’s principle of self-determination, “to address the serious problems facing Black Psychologists and the larger Black community.” Detroit ABPsi also has a history of outstanding leadership in the Black community. As a Detroit native and Black woman, I felt moved to support ABPsi’s mission to have a positive impact on the mental health of the Black community, by means of planning community programs, providing services where needed, training, and advocacy, especially to Black families. In addition to my longstanding membership in ABPsi Detroit, I have also served as the chapter’s Chair of Community Outreach Committee and participated in the chapters Membership Committee. In these roles, I helped develop our annual symposiums and attract new members to our organization.  

Who is your favorite Black Psychologist? 

The late, great, Dr. Joseph L. White. Dr. White is known as the godfather of Black Psychology. He was a founding member of the National Association of Black Psychologists and established the first Black Studies program in the nation. Dr. White is also a historic figure locally, as he was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. in psychology at Michigan State University and one of only five African Americans in the country to hold a doctorate in psychology at the time in 1961. I pay homage and say Ase’ to him for being a champion and advocate of African American Psychology. His 1970 article “Toward a Black Psychology” was critical to the formation of the field of Black Psychology, because “the psychology created by White people could never adequately apply to African-Americans.” His work as a scholar, professor, and author, helped shift psychology away from racist practices and to develop accurate appraisals of Black people. 

Click here to view an interview of Dr. White filmed for the 40th Annual Convention of The Association of Black Psychologists in Oakland, August 2008, where he describes his background, legacy, and development of the Association of Black Psychologists. 

Where can people find more about you? 

I am planning to retire from DPSCD this year and open a new private practice in 2022. My goals for my practice are to enhance my future client’s quality of life – mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically.  I also currently provide private consultation as an Industrial Organizational Psychologist and Special Education School Social Worker, as well as supervision and training to limited licensed social workers as a License Master Clinical Social Worker. If you are interested in learning more about my consultation or supervision services, please give me call me at 248-461-7273.

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