HELPING PEOPLE FIND JOY IN THEIR LIVES
BY ANABEL MARQUEZ | PHOTOS: RACHEL CARRILLO
Nakeya Fields is both a loud, fearless powerhouse and a calm, soothing Zen mentor.
And whichever role she’s stepping into, she gets results.
She was selected as one of fifty Goldman Sachs Black Women Impact Grant recipients nationwide and her documentary on Black mental health is currently in production, with fresh footage filmed during a recent trip to Ghana, Africa. She’s the director of the Therapeutic Play Foundation, a non-profit organization in Pasadena. She’s also a published author, a licensed mental health therapist and single mother to a young boy named Amare.
“I know why I’m motivated to work this hard. It’s because I’m a mom, it’s because I’m being protective. I don’t ever want to get to a place where I don’t provide for him,” says Fields.
“As a Black woman it has been my responsibility to show up in the way that I can in spaces that I have power,” she explains. “I love helping people find joy in their life.”
Her peaceful demeanor is indicative of a woman who is balanced and centered. But don’t take her serenity for weakness.
“When I get into creation mode, I call it ‘Beast mode,’” she says. “Sometimes I intimidate people!”
Currently, her Therapeutic Play Foundation is thriving with clients, contracts and enough funding to have several employees on payroll. The center offers therapy for adults and children as well as massage, acupuncture, and cupping sessions for clients. There is a nurse that does wellness visits for moms-to-be and soon, they will offer medication management for clients.
“We’re all about the preventative care,” says Fields.
“As a Black woman it has been my responsibility to show up in the way that I can in spaces that I have power”
Before the Therapeutic Play Foundation, Nakeya Fields had a separate therapy business. She was running Fields Family Counseling Services which offered mental health services and corporate employee wellness among other programs.
In her workshops she was a fierce advocate for the Black community, often referring to statistics that show a disparity in health services.
However, just as she continued growing her business, Fields Family Counseling came to a crashing halt with the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Her successful therapy center was suddenly in trouble and unable to stay open.
“I didn’t have any clients. My therapists were gone. Because we weren’t having regular income, I had to pivot,” Nakeya explains.
In that moment of uncertainty, she gave up her apartment lease, moved to her mother’s house and broke down.
“I felt so weak. I cried and cried. My mom held my hand,” she remembers.
She spent four months at her mom’s house. Then she centered herself around the strengths that had made her the successful entrepreneur she is.
“I had to make this decision to be able to recover. I talked to all my contracts. My non-profit was already established because I did pro bono work,” Fields recalls.
Slowly but surely, she reemerged from the pandemic losses. This time, however, she came back stronger.
She teamed up with the Flintridge Center and was able to procure an ample office with enough room for yoga sessions. She received the generous Goldman Sachs grant and other awards to help her get back up.
Today, the Therapeutic Play Foundation offers Mommy Matters, a maternal health outreach program for expecting mothers of children 2 and under; Holistic Interventions including Ayurveda Consultations, Reiki, herbal support for immune system issues and sound baths; Healing Art Workshops where participants get to take community art-based classes; Yoga for trauma and anxiety and Manifest Apothecary offering wellness supplies and tools for self-care to clients who need them.
Upon concluding her Yoga session on this summer afternoon, Nakeya Fields looks up at a wall in her office with a sign that reads “I am powerful” and takes a deep breath, followed by a deep smile.
“I care about my work. The quality is real.”
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