Psychologist Offers Mental Health Therapy in Inner City Neighborhood

Satira Streeter is having fun with these girls who are working together on their homework for the first time as Girl Scouts.

Two years ago, Streeter started the first Girl Scout chapter in Anacostia, a Washington D.C. neighborhood plagued by crime, school drop-outs and teen age pregnancy. She is determined to help neighborhood girls build the resilience and self-confidence needed to stay in school, and avoid drugs and early pregnancy.

“I come in this community for the girls, to show them that you have other options and life doesn’t always have to be like this, even though this is all you have ever seen,” she said.

After graduating with honors as a psychologist, Streeter could have gone most anywhere. But she decided to open a therapy practice she called Ascensions Community Services in this neighborhood where no one else offered mental health treatment.

“I felt that it wasn’t me and then them I needed to come to help us; to do things and to be better,” Streeter said.

Streeter, along with fellow therapist Kia Mills and another colleague offer family therapy and parenting classes. Here, they talk about the girl scouts who often stop by after classes.

In her first three years, Streeter worked without pay. When a local philanthropic group noticed the psychologist’s work, it contributed $50,000.

Streeter says when she grew up in a neighborhood like Anacostia, others mentored her through her tough childhood. Now, she says it is time to give back.

“I owed that much to this community, to come and give back as much as I possibly could,” she said.

Steeter was in foster care by age 11. She never knew her father and lived with a mentally ill mother who could not take care of her.

“After spending a lot of time in the hospital she started to self medicate with crack cocaine, so she spent most of my teen age years as a crack addict,” she said.

Satira Streeter does not consider herself religious. But she says her rich spiritual life has held her together, “I had a lot of faith that I could make a difference and back then I had a lot of faith that my life would be different than the lives I saw,” she said.

She says perhaps one day she could marry and have a family of her own. For now, Streeter feels a call to help and the joy of giving back to a community that years ago allowed her to come out and succeed against the odds.