Therapist helps by styling hair


Psychologist Afiya Mbilishaka styles clients’ hair while she counsels them.

African-American women should “view [their] hair as a form of stress management,” a Washington, D.C., clinical psychologist told an AACC audience on Feb. 13.

During a presentation titled, “Psychohairapy,” Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka advised the audience of 16 people in the Florestano Building to “set up a haircare routine that stimulates all your senses.”

Mbilishaka suggested using natural produce, like apple cider vinegar, to moisturize hair, and playing music while styling it.

She began the presentation by asking the audience to Google the word “beauty” on their cellphones and compare it with the results they get when they search “black beauty.”

Although Mbilishaka meant black as a skin color, most audience members reported seeing results featuring the famous horse from the 1877 novel, “Black Beauty,” which was made into films in 1946, 1971 and 1994.

Mbilishaka said she got the same search results when she was researching job opportunities for black hair stylists. She said she realized black women are underrepresented in the hairstyling world, and she set out to change that.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of what goes on with [the black] community in regards to our hair,” Ria Freeman, who graduated from AACC with a communications degree last spring and attended the event, said.

Mbilishaka runs group styling sessions at N Natural Hair Studio in Silver Spring, where she counsels clients and helps them work through their problems while she styles their hair.