Person of the Week
Venice Garner Moore Shines Light on Minority Mental Health Awareness
Venice Garner Moore made the leap to begin her own practice, Embrace Your Difference, and is sharing the importance of the concept, self career, and more in a column throughout July in honor of Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. (Photo courtesy of Venice Garner Moore)
At a peaceful protest in Madison, Venice Garner Moore—a therapist, life coach, author, and motivational speaker—met an editor from Shore Publishing, and Venice suggested a story highlighting Minority Mental Health Awareness. With issues of race at the forefront of the news, the issue of seeking help with mental health is more important than ever. It turns out that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and the idea for a story evolved into plans for a column to run once a week in July written by Venice and her husband Vernon Moore.
“We were one of only maybe two African-American families rolling around and [Living Editor] Pem [McNerney] had asked to take a photo, and we got to talking,” says Venice, who was at the protest with Vernon and their four children.
“Unfortunately with African-American and Hispanic culture, when it comes to mental health, seeking out help has become taboo so we want to really spread the word and get people to understand that therapy is a safe place and it’s time to break patterns,” says Venice. “We want to tap into being okay with talking about things in order to be the best version of yourself and how important it is to take care of yourself mentally.”
Venice now runs her own private practice, Embrace Your Difference, which she has built from the ground up, beginning with the first Embrace Your Difference conference, which was held in 2015. The conference has grown over the years and this year marked the first year the conference was open to both men and women.
While the Embrace Your Difference conference was born in 2015, the concept has been growing in Venice since she was young. She faced hardships growing up in the Bronx and discovered truths in her family that made her feel different and like she didn’t fit in.
After 10 years in Catholic school, she went to public school as a freshman, but complications from asthma treatments and a week-long stay in the hospital caused Venice to lose her memory. Due to that and issues she was facing at home, Venice had a nervous breakdown and missed most of the school year. Her guidance counselor suggested she get her GED instead of returning to school.
“I turned her discouragement into encouragement for myself—I went to night school, I went to summer school, I was going to get out of the Bronx because this wasn’t my limit,” says Venice. “When I came back sophomore year, I was determined. I missed high school graduation by one credit, but I told myself I was going to have a college graduation.”
Venice finished high school over the summer and went on to earn two bachelor degrees from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in journalism and human services. The challenges she faced inspired her first book, a poetry collection called Be I am Different, which she published at the age of 21.
Venice received her master’s in clinical social work at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work and is a licensed clinical social worker/therapist. Venice has worked in therapeutic foster care and most recently in corporate special education for a nationwide company. She started with the company in Maryland before transferring to Connecticut to be closer to her family.
Her career also led to meeting her husband, Vernon, who was working with a student on an individualized education plan that Venice was facilitating. The couple was married in 2017 and lives in East Haven.
Venice’s background and her first book inspired the Embrace Your Difference conference, which grew into a private practice, located in North Haven. Vernon just joined the practice full-time, as well.
According to www.embraceyourdifference.com, “Embracing Your Difference, LLC. is a private practice & motivational firm in which Venice continues to motivate and inspire people through individual and couples therapy, self-esteem enhancement, young mothers and father groups, post-partum workshops/groups, LCSW supervision and also a mentoring program.”
Venice notes that she sees some clients individually while she and Vernon also lead sessions together. She has also authored a second book, Embracing My Difference: Erasing Fear While Finding Purpose.
“I’ve had to embrace some things I went through that were challenges—embrace the good, the bad, and all because I was meant to go through it all,” says Venice. “The chapters explain my philosophy surrounding what allows you to have a true life of well roundedness and freedom.”
Venice acknowledges that it can be hard for people to reach out and ask for help. Her most recent publication is The Self Love and Healing Workbook, which will be available this month.
“This workbook is for people who may be resistant to therapy so they can start to scratch the surface,” says Venice. “They can answer questions and ask themselves questions and then see either, ‘I’m good,’ or maybe I need additional support. Use the workbook to take time out for you. The pages will hopefully guide you and help you tape into yourself.”
Venice notes how important self care is, whether in the form of therapy or other things you enjoy. Venice and her family enjoy traveling. She also likes dancing, spending time with friends, and a day at the spa.
“I like to let loose when I can because I have a lot of responsibility with four kids and a business,” says Venice. “We’re also working hard to make sure our children don’t see what we saw growing up, but at the same time being able to expose them to different things.”
Venice notes that part of therapy is breaking patterns that have been taught to us or displayed by our parents or other figures in our lives. She encourages people to look at themselves through their child’s eyes and visualize the stories they would tell on a first date or to a best friend.
“How would they talk about you? Would they remember your complaining about things you wanted but never could do or have or would they see how happy you are?” asks Venice, who is also a spiritual life coach. “As a therapist, you focus on breaking patterns and encouraging people to understand it’s a safe space. As a spiritual life coach, it’s about trusting the God in you from a universal perspective that we’re all one.”
For information, visit www.embraceyourdifference.com.
Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .