Layla J. Bonner, Ph.D, LMFT, NCC is an Assistant Professor in the Master of Arts degree program in Mental Health Counseling at Belmont University. She earned her doctorate in Clinical Counseling, Teaching, & Supervision from Trevecca Nazarene University in 2018. She is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Tennessee and a Nationally Certified Counselor. In her private practice, Dr. Bonner works primarily with individuals and couples and supervises post-master’s counselors toward full licensure in the state of Tennessee. She is a Clinical Fellow and an Approved Supervisor with the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.
Dr. Bonner previously served as the Human Rights Chairperson with the Tennessee Counseling Association. She has presented at multiple conferences hosted by professional organizations such as the Southern Association for Counselor Educators and Supervisors through the American Counseling Association, The International Association of Marriage and Family Counselors, and the Black Mental Health Symposium. She has authored publications for journals, a textbook, and a teaching and learning blog in the area of group work with African American students, career counseling with ethnically diverse groups, and strategies for faculty of color who teach at predominantly White institutions. Dr. Bonner has engaged in public speaking, provided live interviews, and served on various panels to discuss the topics of Race Based Trauma, African American mental health, and Microaggressions.
Poem read and written by Dr. Bonner
A client of mine once said, “Screw Shame!” This was his declaration that he was going to break free from the shackles and chains that had him bound. Perhaps we could all learn a lesson from the moxy he mustered up in this moment.
People tell me that I’m beautiful. But if only they knew what I looked like without the make-up, the spanx, and the well coordinated outfits. The truth is, I don’t feel beautiful. Most days, I feel fat and unattractive. I put on all these adornments so “they” can’t see it. But deep down I know the truth, and I’m terrified of being found out. I’m not what they think. I’m not pretty.
Shame is such a monster. But what if we confronted it and took away its power. What if we all said to our own shame, “Hey, SCREW YOU!” What if we admitted that, yes- I’m not the prettiest, the brightest, the most popular? I think it’s running away from it-from those thoughts- that makes the fear/shame greater. It’s the hoping that it’s not true that drives us to despair.
The real truth is….the good news is….we aren’t perfect. We do fall short. We aren’t the latest and the greatest. So, why not face that truth and accept it? Why not say, yes I’m not the prettiest?! Why do we let Shame torment us? Why do we run from it when we could run into it head on?
The bible says that we are nothing without God. We forget that only in Him are we truly whole and perfect. So, who we are…or how (fill in the blank) we are depends solely upon our relationship with Him. This is our humanity. We are fallen, broken people. Our desire is to be perfect. But we will never be.
The Bible already tells us that we are broken and imperfect. Let’s celebrate that.