Dr. Lawrence Jackson is an assistant professor in Couples and Family Therapy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas School of Medicine; an individual, couple, and family therapist in the Las Vegas community; and the owner of The Black Male Therapist, LLC. He is an alumnus of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) MFP and received his Ph.D. in 2020 from Florida State University.
Dr. Jackson was drawn to the MFP because he felt it would provide him with opportunities to expand his cultural sensitivity and awareness for the communities he wanted to serve. While his program of study provided similar trainings, Dr. Jackson was hopeful that being an MFP fellow would be a valuable addition to his studies. He also wanted to be able to connect with fellows and mentors that could help him matriculate through his program. Unsurprisingly, he was correct, sharing that "The MFP provided opportunities to network, be inspired, be charged to do the work I'm doing and gave me access to resources to help me navigate the process a lot smoother."
Dr. Jackson initially envisioned himself as a sports therapist and felt the MFP would provide training and tools needed to work primarily with people of color within the sports industry. After participating in the MFP, his vision expanded because he recognized the importance of cultural training, the value of the knowledge he was receiving, and wanted to ensure more people could access similar opportunities. This increased his desire for more visibility, leading him to become a faculty member where he could provide training for students of color to better serve the community. It also encouraged him to consider how to get more individuals involved and trained in the field, which ties to the work he does outside of academia. He shared, "I am committed to changing the narrative and getting more people knowledgeable about mental health."
Participating in the MFP afforded Dr. Jackson opportunities to build and nurture his professional network. It also aided his platform "Black Therapy Fridays", a social media campaign he created to engage and promote mental health awareness, especially in Black and Brown communities. He also created a clothing line to normalize mental health through the use of fashion at The Black Make Therapist
.The MFP has given him opportunities and ideas on how to connect with the community, how to keep this message at the forefront, and even when met with barriers, to keep things going. One thing he has learned as an MFP fellow is the importance of resiliency as well as the greater purpose of his work, which encourages him to continue on the path. Dr. Jackson added, "Even if you’re the only one passionate about your work, you press forward to create that opportunity and be accountable because you recognize your charge."
In regard to how the MFP mentorship impacted his professional development, Dr. Jackson said, "It was huge! It helped me learn to position myself for success as a graduate, from preparation of my CV, research statement and teaching philosophies, to support with job searches and negotiating contract offers. The mentors were there to support and make the process easier and to support with open, transparent
conversations that allowed me to feel comfortable in navigating the new spaces I found myself in. I didn’t feel I was alone or the only one advocating for myself. I had a group of individuals supporting and encouraging me to pursue what I felt I deserved."
When asked what career building advice he would offer to the current MFP fellows, Dr. Jackson says, "Utilize the network and resources. It’s one thing to have access to them, but you have to utilize them. I say that as someone who feels I could have tapped into them more! This can increase your opportunities, platform, or impact. Do as much and get as much as possible. You are going to get out of MFP what you put in! All the resources are there, you just have to tap into them and utilize them."
In speaking about the MFP agency that trained him, Dr. Jackson says, "Thank you! Thanks for the opportunity and being so supportive! My journey wasn’t smooth, but it was a lot smoother because of the support AAMFT provided! They continuously supported and encouraged me and amplified my voice. It made me feel encouraged to do the work I’m doing, which is often stressful and challenging. This gave me a renewed sense to continue to push forward and do the best I can and make a difference while I have the opportunity to do so."
Dr. Jackson closed by remarking on the importance of the MFP program. He shared, "It’s so necessary. I wish everyone could see how beneficial it can be. There are things I didn’t know about that this program exposed me to. I continue to feel excited and want to do more and think how I can make my own special imprint in the field. This is highly influenced by my time in the MFP!"