Alumnae/i Feature

Representation Matters: Kareena Richards ’19MSW on Being a Black Female Clinician

What the job entails

Kareena is an integrated behavioral health clinician at the South End Community Health Center, a comprehensive healthcare organization in Boston. She provides brief interventions and short-term therapy in the clinic; counsels children and adults for longer-term therapy; and runs a weekly support group for adults using narrative therapy. She is also a member of a committee focused on advancing health equity and social justice at the center.

“My days are spent with clients and in the community,” she says. “The providers and I work as a team to ensure that our patients’ care is continuous.”

What brought her to Simmons

A native of Boston and a 2016 graduate of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Kareena came to Simmons with the goal “of helping my community as a black female therapist.” She attended an information session for the School of Social Work and recalls being highly impressed by the students who spoke.

“They were addressing real problems,” she says. Simmons, she decided, “was very much a place where I could see myself.”

How Simmons prepared her

Kareena reports that coursework such as Social Work Healthcare Practice, Narrative Therapy, and Social Work With Gender and Sexual Minorities applied directly to her field experiences — and to her role today. “I was constantly learning from the strengths and experiences of my classmates and professors,” she says.

At the Match Community Day Charter School in Hyde Park, she provided individual and group counseling for 11 students in grades K1-5. In her second year, she received specialized training in integrated behavioral health for medically underserved and vulnerable populations in the Simmons Integrated Mental Health Primary Care and Clinical Training (SIMPACT) program. As a SIMPACT scholar, she completed her second placement at the South End Community Health Center.

Kareena also served as second vice-president and parliamentarian for the Association of Black Social Workers chapter at Simmons. “So many awesome opportunities combined to help me achieve my goals,” she says.

Why it’s rewarding

“I am accomplishing what I set out to do,” says Kareena. “It is evident in the community: I honestly have clients who say, ‘I’m really glad that you are a black woman’ or ‘This is exactly what I hoped for.’ I’m thrilled that I’m able to do this work.”

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