BLOGJune Provider Spotlight: Dr. Ashley Elliott aka Dr. Vivid

Empowering Through Authenticity: Dr. Vivid’s Impact on Mental Health

This Pride Month, we’re honored to feature Dr. Ashley Elliott, affectionately known as Dr. Vivid, whose dedication as both a member and advocate of the LGBTQ+ community enriches her therapeutic approach, creating a welcoming atmosphere for individuals seeking mental health support and honoring their diverse experiences. Born in Washington D.C. during the late 80s and 90s, Dr. Vivid experienced firsthand societal challenges like the crime wave, crack epidemic, and HIV/AIDS crisis. Raised by a teen mother after losing her father early on, Ashley’s early life was shaped by adversity and resilience fostered through therapy. Committed to healing and advocacy, she became a psychologist to empower those from similar backgrounds.

As a “pint-size fun-sized, travel-size social media therapist,” Dr. Vivid has actively collaborated with the Foundation, offering vital support, tools, and resources to the community as a member of our Let’s Talk! Resource Guide. Her recent role as a featured speaker at the 2024 Can We Talk? Symposium, where she moderated the S.I.T. Down Sis panel, underscores her commitment to uplifting and educating through dialogue. She is the founder of Vivid Wellness Collective, providing wellness services in the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area for over 10 years. Dr. Vivid’s mission is to empower, encourage, and enlighten by spreading awareness of mental health and wellness, fostering safe spaces, and championing LGBTQ+ inclusivity.

BLHF: How do you incorporate your personality and passions into your work with clients?

Dr. Vivid: Therapy is all about authenticity, vulnerability, and safety. You can’t have one without the other if you want to heal. I bring my authentic self into each session to challenge the sterile and oppressive nature of the healthcare system. I dress how I feel, give honest responses, and encourage laughter, tears, and reflective silence. I welcome spirituality, hobbies, and quirks in sessions. Give me all of you. You are welcome here.

BLHF: Can you share an example of a particularly creative or effective intervention that you’ve implemented?

Dr. Vivid: I love the feelings playlist! I encourage my clients to create playlists based on basic moods then we expand them as we go further into their journey. We analyze song choice, what resonates, lyrics, and melody. It helps clients develop a richer emotional vocabulary, understand empathy, memory and emotion, and allows them to use words to explain how they feel when they’re struggling to explain how they feel. My clients who are men or have experienced a lot of emotional suppression really benefit from this tool.

BLHF: How do you leverage technology and digital tools to enhance the therapeutic experience for your clients?

Dr. Vivid: Many of my clients use social media for entertainment and as a source for finding mental health and wellness information. They also know about my media presence. I help them find safe accounts, practice safe consumption, and correct false information and terrible pop psychology videos. We also use video games, AI/AR/VR, digital diaries, music apps, mood trackers and other digital tools to build their coping toolbox in and out of therapy.

BLHF: What do you think is the biggest misconception about mental health among young adults today, and how do you address it in your practice?

Dr. Vivid: One of the biggest misconceptions I hear frequently is the idea that mental health is all about medication and therapy. Mental health and wellness can be managed with the aid of medication and therapy, but really it is about examining your lifestyle, beliefs, thoughts, and feelings in order to be the best YOU. It’s about having a better understanding of self and doing what you can to maintain, support, and comfort the vessel that you are meant to be. It’s saying no, utilizing movement, disconnecting from things that don’t serve you, honoring your voice and taking care of yourself intentionally.

BLHF: As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, how do you leverage your personal experiences and identity to create a safe and affirming space for LGBTQ+ individuals seeking mental health support, especially in communities where stigma or discrimination may still persist?

Dr. Vivid: I know what it feels like to have homophobic family members. I know what it feels like to be scared to travel to certain places because of how I show affection to those I love. I know what it feels like to receive hate online based on my identity and preferences. I stand in solidarity with my clients and when it’s right, we talk about our community and world experiences. I see them. I also don’t make assumptions. I see non-binary and trans clients, but I don’t identify as non-binary or trans. Therefore I’m not going to project my cis-gendered experiences on them. I’m constantly doing research, talking to my trans and non-binary friends and associates about their needs and what feels safe to them. I give my queer clients homework that involves exploring their community via groups, events, social gatherings and more in order to extend their community beyond our sessions. I always make sure they feel safe, seen, and heard. I’m an advocate for my Queer community out loud.

BLHF: Can you share any quick tips or practices that young adults can incorporate into their daily routines to boost their mental health?

Dr. Vivid: Turn the phone on silent or DND sometimes. Take a break from social media. Take a break from mainstream media. Take at least 15 minutes a day to love yourself by doing something centered around you. Tell yourself something you love about yourself everyday. Take a walk, dance, or exercise. Keep a video or written journal to get those thoughts out. Ask for help when you need it.

BLHF: How do you see pop culture influencing conversations around mental health, and do you think it’s helping to reduce stigma?

Dr. Vivid: Pop culture is creating more attention when it comes to mental health. Attention creates the channel for awareness. Hearing your favorite celebrity or entertainer talk about their own mental health journey or discussing their setbacks and progress creates more conversations. We need more conversations to help reduce stigma.

BLHF: What emerging trends or developments in the field of mental health and wellness are you most excited about?

Dr. Vivid: I really love the continued research we are doing on psychedelics, the integration of psychopharmacology and plant medicine, and collective healing.

BLHF: How do you envision the future of mental health care, especially in terms of accessibility and inclusivity for younger generations?

Dr. Vivid: I love the moxy and audacity the younger generation has. They demand attention. They demand change and are willing to go toe-to-toe with the system for all they deserve. I believe my generation really lit the flame and these younger souls are ready to blaze it up! I envision a future where healthcare is turned inside out. I’m hoping that with all the information we have now, the younger generations will take more preventative measures when it comes to their health. I long for a healthcare system where no matter the age, ethnicity, or level of bodily/mental function, we feel seen, safe, and taken care of.

Fun Rapid-Fire Round:

BLHF: Favorite self-care activity?

Dr. Vivid: Dancing to songs I make up. I make up songs on the spot and I’m not going to lie, they’re all bops! So I dance to them on the Facetime with my friends lol

BLHF: Go-to stress-relief song or playlist?

Dr. Vivid: I make my own playlists for myself & my friends. I’m the Mood DJ lol. My current 2 in rotation are “Talk Yo Shit”, “Gay Sht for the Girlies” & “Reflection”*

BLHF: Last book or podcast that left a lasting impression on you?

Dr. Vivid: I listen to The Friendzone & The Read weekly. There are always gems related to mental health, financial health, and friendship. They remind me that we’re all out here adulting together, and it’s ok to feel like it’s ghetto lol!

BLHF: One piece of advice you wish you could give your younger self?

Dr. Vivid: Life gets better when you start living it for you and not for the approval of others. Be you and do you little sis.

BLHF: Any final words of wisdom or encouragement for young adults who may be struggling with their mental health?

Dr. Vivid: It’s ok to feel different. It’s ok to admit you’re not doing ok or not feeling your best. No one or no thing on this Earth is 100% ALWAYS. We all need help sometimes. Make that therapy appointment. Take those medications. Make that move. Go on that spiritual retreat. Do whatever you need to get to the relief, release, and peace you deserve. I’d prefer a moment of new discomfort over a lifetime of misery.

Dr. Ashley Elliott aka Dr. Vivid
Clinical Psychologist, Advocate
Vivid Wellness Collective

Where to find me?
Instagram: @drvivid
BLHF Let’s Talk Resource Guide

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