This month we feature an interview with Dr. Keisha Downey, a leading Licensed Marriage & Family Psychotherapist from the VH1 show Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn Mann. Dr. Downey specializes in working with individuals, couples, families, and teenagers. She has worked with various people of different cultures, socioeconomic backgrounds, lifestyles, and ethnicities.
Dr. Downey has years of experience helping individuals struggling with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, parent-child relationships, crisis intervention, just to name a few. Dr. Keisha Downey is also a contributor to a New York health and training facility for individuals and couples and has been interviewed by Our Weekly Newspaper, Westside Story Newspaper, LA Talk Radio, KBeach Radio, Indie 100 Radio, Black Hollywood Live TV, and now MVP-Life, just to name a few!
MVP Tell us about where you grew up.
DKD I was born and raised in North Chicago, Illinois…a city right outside of Chicago. Growing up in North Chicago and being surrounded by the residents there, helped me to better understand life and hone in on what I wanted to do as an adult.
MVP What fond memories of your childhood do you cherish that you can share with our readers?
DKD My fondest memories include spending time with my grandmother, who was and continues to be the person who has helped me become who I am today. In addition, I cherish the memories I had with my mother as a child. I looked up to both women growing up. They were my role models. Despite the challenges they faced, their strength, perseverance, and ongoing support towards my career goals, I was able to grow up into the successful woman I am today. I honestly do not know the type of person I would have been without them in my life.
MVP What inspired you to pursue a career in Psychotherapy?
DKD I grew up in a single parent household. Despite the challenges that may have occurred, I always loved helping people. However, it wasn’t until I landed a job working with college students that I realized that I wanted to pursue a career in psychotherapy, more specifically to be a doctor and psychotherapist. Back then, the students I worked with received my message of encouragement so well, that it was not only rewarding for them, but also rewarding for me to know I was able to make a difference in their lives.
MVP How did you transition from running a private practice to being featured on the VH1’s Couples Therapy Show?
DKD It’s a pretty interesting story. My mentor at the time asked me if I had ever heard of the show, which I was familiar with. She informed me that they were hiring for a Resident Counselor. I contacted the appropriate parties, interviewed for the position, and was hired to be a part of Dr. Jenn Mann’s treatment team. The show has been on for 6 seasons and I have worked on 4 of the 6 seasons so far.
MVP As a couples therapist what’s the top 3 problems you see couples have?
DKD The most common challenge with couples is that they lack the motivation to understand one another. They fail to make the appropriate time to truly get to know and understand each other. This includes things such as what they like and dislike, expectations, and even the simplest things.
Another issue that is common amongst partners is having a lack of communication. They want to be heard, but they do not make the effort to listen to their partner in regards to their feelings and to what they say. Trust, or the lack of trust, can have a negative impact on relationships. I have also noticed that couples are not always prepared for cooperation, which is key in a marriage or relationship. Beginning at a young age, people are usually trained to think as individuals. Partners are not always accustomed to think about another person’s or their partner’s dreams, hopes, or aspirations. As a result, issues can arise and tends to be the beginning of the break down in a relationship.
MVP What relationship advice would you give a couple who are in the limelight to help their relationship stay strong?
DKD Continue to find ways to connect with each other. It is important for couples to stimulate each other mentally, emotionally, as well as physically. In order to keep this flow going, it will be important to continue to understand each other’s roles and what is expected to help keep that fire burning.
MVP Do you believe in love at first sight?
DKD Yes. I believe love happens when it is supposed to happen. If that means when a person places his or her eyes on another individual for the first time and falls in love, then this is what is meant to be.
MVP You also specialize with parent-child relationship therapy do you have any children?
DKD Yes, I have two amazing children, ages 20 and 17. They are also the reason for my focus and dedication to my purpose in life, which is to help improve the quality of a person’s overall lifestyle.
MVP Did you face any challenges and obstacles in following your dream? If so, how did you overcome them?
DKD Being a single parent of two has its challenges. However, with the help of my family and supportive friends I was able to overcome and succeed at what I set out to accomplish.
MVP So who is Keisha Downey? What are your favorite activities or hobbies?
DKD Keisha Downey is a genuine, outgoing, caring individual who simply enjoys life and loves her family. I take nothing for granted and love doing what I do. My hobbies include implementing balance in my life, which includes traveling, hanging out with friends, and just living life.
MVP What is your greatest strength as a therapist?
DKD My greatest strength as a therapist is based on my ability to build rapport. As a therapist, my job is to provoke movement to help a person get to where they want to be in life. In order to do this, I make sure to provide a comfortable and non-judgmental atmosphere for my clients to fully express themselves no matter what their thoughts or feelings might be.
MVP Are you in involved with any charities or causes? If so, which ones and why?
DKD I am a expert panelist at mental health events throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding cities where I help to educate the masses about the stigma attached to mental illnesses.
MVP Are they any individuals who have made an impact on you, and whose work you admire?
DKD The individuals that made an impact on me are my mother, grandmother, and aunts. As I mentioned earlier, these women have helped shape me into the woman I am today. I was fortunate to witness their struggles along with their resiliency, which helped me truly understand what life can be. They also taught me how to avoid the negativity of other individuals who may not have wanted to see me succeed. As a result, I blossomed into a successful, strong woman devoted to improving the lives of other women, men, and children facing the same or similar challenges.
MVP Can you talk about some of the challenges in filming Couples Therapy? Any behind-the-scenes anecdotes you can share?
DKD Due to confidentiality, I cannot talk about some of the challenges or any behind-the-scene filming with Couples Therapy with Dr.Jenn.
MVP You are an amazing woman who has had a lot of significant achievements. What would you like to share with our readers to inspire and motivate them?
DKD Never stop working towards what is important in your life. Do not allow others to negatively impact your purpose in life. Life is full of ups and downs and also full of people who may not always have your best interests at heart. As a result, it is important to avoid another person’s actions or behaviors that negatively affect who you are. More so, it is important for men and women to identify early what their strengths are and rely on those strengths in order to stay inspired and motivated.
MVP Do you think writing a book about your life story and journey to establishing yourself as therapist of note is something you could do?
DKD Yes, absolutely.
MVP Any new project that you are working on or are planning to work on?
DKD I will release my book this year and continue to educate people I encounter on the importance of mental health.
MVP What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
DKD When I inform people that I have a 20 year old son and 17 year old daughter, they have a hard time believing it…my children are my pride and joy!
MVP I am sure some sessions you have with patients are pretty disturbing and depressing especially when you hear the terrible trauma that people face. How do you manage to stay positive?
DKD I don’t personalize what my clients disclose in session. It’s important also as a therapist to have your own mentor, therapist or other mental health professional to consult with in order to help deal with challenges that may arise when listening to my clients’ problems.
MVP Thank you so much for taking time to share a little about yourself with our readers. Any closing remarks that you would like to make?
Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview. I am honored and truly appreciative!