Dr. Robin Smith Leads Campus Workshops This Spring on Using the Creative Arts for Empowerment, Enrichment and Excellence

January 26, 2013

University College Student Wellness staff coordinator Lorna Best has planned a series of Behavioral Health Workshops for the Spring 2013 semester. Celebrity psychologist and former therapist-in-residence for The Oprah Winfrey Show Dr. Robin Smith will facilitate the workshops. The first program on Self-Care: Personal Respect and Balance begins at 6 pm on Tuesday, February 12 in the UPS Conference Room of the new Residence Hall. She will return to conduct two more workshops in March and April--one on drug and alcohol education--the other on suicide prevention.

The series theme, Using the Creative Arts for Empowerment, Enrichment and Excellence, is planned to inspire and help students have successful academic and social experiences while at Cheyney University.

Dr. Smith is the youngest child in a family for which high achievement was mandatory. Her father, Warren E. Smith, MD, was a psychiatrist who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. and spoke Swahili, Japanese, German, and Greek. Her mother, Rosa Lee Smith (now 84), was one of the first African-American women to graduate from the Bryn Mawr School of Social Work. Her grandmother, Addie Belle Spencer (now 102), is the child of a freed slave and became a nurse in her 60s. 

After graduating from high school at age 16 and LaSalle University at 20, Smith was teaching gymnastics and trying to figure out the trajectory of her life. One day, on her way home from work, she saw a billboard for Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary and literally made a U-turn to ask for an application, still in her shorts and a T-shirt.
Today she is an adjunct professor at her alma mater, having earned a master's degree (as well as a PhD in counseling psychology from Temple University), and conducts leadership training for organizations such as Johnson & Johnson, Victoria's Secret, and the IRS. "All companies are macrosystems of families," she says. "Conflict management, anger, accountability—they're the same issues that come up in personal relationships. In the same way that a family has a scapegoat and a shining star, those roles show up in the corporate culture."
Facing the fear is a recurrent theme in her practice. "You don't even know how scared you are until you're not," she says. "I try to get people to the point where fear is not the guiding light, not what runs their lives." 
If Smith's own life can serve as a blueprint of change for others, that's just fine with her. "There's a passage in Ezekiel that asks: Can these dry bones live again?" she says. "My own life has had such dry spells, such desolate times, but I know that dry bones can live again, that hopeless things can be turned around, not with magic but with hard work. I feel that's what I'm on the planet to talk about."

The workshops are made possible through a grant from the Morehouse School of Medicine’s HBCU Center for Excellence in Behavioral Health which, in turn, was made possible by funding from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.