deaf@work: LEEANNE

LeeAnne is a Marriage and Family / Sex Therapist who works with people who have or are experiencing mental health issues such as grief, anxiety, depression, anger, communication, relationships, and family systems. #DeafAtWork

[VIDEO DESCRIPTION AND TRANSCRIPT: LeeAnne is seated in her office.

LEEANNE: We had established an informal tea group gathering of young Black Deaf mothers. There was just five of us really. I was a young mother at the time. One day we were sitting in a circle and just chatting about this and that while drinking tea. One woman had said, “I’m not going to sit on any public toilet in New York City.” When I asked her why, she responded, “I could get HIV from sitting on a toilet.” Immediately I thought how terrible this was, she had gotten the wrong information! From there, our conversations included topics of sexology, sexuality, romance, relationships, and so on. I’d often collect research and bring it back to the group. That was how I discovered my calling.

Black and white video clip of LeeAnne in her office watching a client sign in foreground. In the center, a white border surrounds white text “LEEANNE” underneath, appears in white text “MARRIAGE AND FAMILY / SEX THERAPIST.” A clip of LeeAnne shows her profile, nodding.

LEEANNE: My name is LeeAnne Valentine and I’m a Marriage & Family, and Sex Therapist here at the Deaf Wellness Center.

Black and white video clips of LeeAnne with her client in her office.

LEEANNE: Navigating through the topic of mental health comes with a lot of taboo and myths. I’m a Sex Therapist and often people are embarrassed and don’t want to come here because no one ever talks about sex. Sex is still considered a taboo topic in almost everywhere. People freak out when the topic comes up! It’s okay to talk about sex.

Black and white video clip of LeeAnne with a client, in her office. White text appears at the bottom center, “Mental health is a touchy subject, so a lot of people turn to their vices like drugs, alcohol, gambling, over-eating, and other different addictions.” Light blue text “- LEEANNE” and a light blue line outlines the left side of the text.

LEEANNE: For many years the Deaf Wellness Center has always had white therapists. Black folks and People of Color in Rochester, New York, wouldn’t come to DWC because there were no therapist of color. The stigma is also very real, for black people in general — they tend to never share their dirty secrets. They’ll often go to church or they’re usually told to go see their pastor. This led to them not telling anyone and holding it all inside. As a Black Deaf therapist, my goal is to connect with the Black Deaf community here.

Black and white video of LeeAnne in her office, with a client.

LEEANNE: No clients are the same, every client is different; they come from different walks of life, their issues are different, their stories are different — that really fascinates me. I often wonder how they lived their lives and put up with many things before coming here. I love their stories because it’s their life! And knowing I’m here to guide them, not help them though because I’ve never liked the word “help” — we’re not in the business of helping people, we’re guiding people to make the right choices.

Black and white video of LeeAnne focused with a client in her office.

LEEANNE: Looking back, I’ve had several people tell me I couldn’t become an MFT or a Sex Therapist because I was black or not smart enough. Well, I’m here — it took me 10 years but I’m here and I never gave up.

Black and white clip of LeeAnne with her client in her office.

Video cuts to grey background with the NAD logo quickly changing in different bright colors from teal to white to black to hot pink to green to orange to teal to yellow to purple to finally the official NAD logo with copyright text underneath “The National Association of the Deaf (c) 2019 All Rights Reserved”.]

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