Dr. Bertrina Olivia West Al-Mahdi
Hi my name is Dr. Bertrina Olivia West Al-Mahdi, but most people affectionately call me Dr. O. I am a U. S. Navy veteran, International Psychologist, Licensed Professional Counselor, Coach, Trauma, Diversity & Inclusion consultant, and a Human, Social, and Civil Rights Advocate and Activist. I specialize in the area of trauma recovery and I have dedicated my career to helping individuals, families, couples, adolescents, and children facing emotional, cognitive, and social challenges. Some of these challenges may include family or individual crisis, trauma, death, loss, or divorce, depression, anxiety, abuse, ADHD, behavioral issues, addiction, or complex mental health disorders.
I received my Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from Argosy University. Following my master’s degree, I completed my doctoral degree in International Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, with a concentration in Trauma.
A lot of people ask me "Why International Psychology?" The answer is simple, I wanted to incorporate my passion human and civil rights equality with my love of psychology to bridge the gap between western and international philosophies on mental health treatment.
I take a Global approach to treatment because I believe in the importance of incorporating a persons' culture, belief system, and values into providing treatment and therapy.
I've traveled the world studying international populations and the impact of trauma. I wanted to gain an understanding of how cultural values and beliefs impact the treatment of diverse populations. All therapists are taught how to provide culturally competent treatment to diverse populations. Yet, treatment modalities are all based on Westernized concepts. I wanted to immerse myself into various cultures truly learning about how their values and beliefs shape their thoughts and behaviors. I did not want to provide a cookie-cutter form of westernized treatment diluted with words and concepts to make me culturally competent. However, I wanted to learn about each ethnic group, culture, and sub-culture so that I could provide the most informed and effective treatment to my clients. Now yes, this is a big task to take on. I have traveled the world conducting research and immersing myself into various countries and cultures. Of course, I have not learned all that I need to know about every culture in every country in the world. But I feel satisfied in knowing that I am more than just culturally competent. Every day I am learning. Every year I am traveling. I am immersing myself into various cultures and communities and I am bridging the gap between Western and International perspectives of psychology.
In addition to taking a Global approach, I also conceptualize my treatment planning through a trauma lens. I focus on the area of trauma because studies show that over 70% of the US population have or will experience a traumatic event in their lifetime! This statistic may seem absurd to many. This is because when most people think about trauma, they're usually visualizing complex trauma (war, assault, abuse, death, etc.). However, trauma is simply STRESS. Everyone experiences stress!
Trauma occurs when stress becomes so overwhelming that it affects your daily functioning. Effects of trauma can be depicted as depression/sadness, anxiety, anger, fear, exhaustion, personality or mood disorders, eating disorders, relationship problems, sexual dysfunction, and I can go on. Many people do not realize that the root cause of their debilitating distress is due to experiencing a traumatic event. What's interesting about trauma, is that it's individualistic. No one can define, outline, or determine the traumatic impact a situation or event may have on a person, and having a traumatic experience doesn't always equate to PTSD. However, resolved trauma can affect you throughout your lifetime. Ever feel like you're in the same place, dealing with the same stuff you dealt with last year? You felt better for a while, even went to counseling, but it "it" is raising its ugly head again? Well, that's because you did not resolve the root cause of your problem. Sometimes its because you're not ready, other times its because it's too painful, or you're simply just unaware that there is a root issue needing to be resolved. That's where I come in. I hold your hand, pass you a tissue and take the journey with you to a better life.
With over 10 years of experience in the field, I have shared my expertise in psychology, trauma, and diversity-related issues by proving supervision, educational seminars, workshops, and training, content expert, and motivational speaker. Some of my topics include: Understanding and Coping with Trauma as a Trauma Worker: Vicarious Trauma, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout; Coping with and Understanding Traumatic Experiences Including: Posttraumatic Stress, Sexual Abuse, Physical/Domestic Abuse, Death and Divorce, Natural Disaster, International Trauma and War and Conflict; as well as conducting diversity workshops, seminars, and presentations on how to address diversity, inclusion, and discrimination issues and resolve D&I related problems in the workplace, cultural competency, raising awareness and understanding of diversity, inclusion, and discrimination, colorism, religion, and effective communication with diverse populations.
I believe in taking a holistic approach to therapy, where I incorporate a equal balance of wellness and harmony in your mind, body, and personal affairs. Thus, in addition to my therapy practices, I also offer health, wellness, and business coaching services. Some may call my approach to counseling, coaching and consulting unorthodox, as I steps away from traditional methodologies and ways of thinking. However, I truly believe in partnering with each individual client as we step Outside of the Box and into our future.
I am very passionate about supporting individuals, couples, families, children, adolescents, organizations, and communities throughout all of life’s transitions and challenges; as well as advocating for equality across nations. My compassionate demeanor is, undoubtedly, impacted by my own multicultural background, traumatic experiences and exposures. In my free time, I enjoys spending time with my husband and two children, traveling, writing poetry, dancing, and working out.