Charles Cheek, along with Nari Baker who is also a student/ trainee at Antioch, is a recipient of the 2018 Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (WAMFT) Diversity Scholarship Award. The award supports continued studies and training in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT).
A third-year MFT student in the second quarter of his internship, Cheek is appreciative of the award for the financial support it will provide while he is in school as well as the platform it provides to build on in terms of networking. Most of all, he appreciates the sense of validation, recognition, and belonging that goes along with the award. The annual conference where the awards are presented was, from Cheek’s perspective, a “meeting of the minds” with MFT professionals with all different backgrounds and levels of experience. Through panels, breakout sessions, and conversations with other therapists, Cheek not only learned about emerging trends in therapy and research, but he also gained a sense of community and group support. “The conference really promoted cross-sharing of information in the field,” he said. “I was exposed to a lot of new insight, such as the effect of the current medical landscape and how it directly affects clients well-being.”
To think that Cheek almost didn’t apply for the scholarship! He sent his application in just before the deadline. When asked why he talked about the many other talented people who qualified for the award. “You second-guess yourself sometimes,” he said. “When not many people in the field look like you… people of color can sometimes experience a sense of imposter syndrome.” He is very happy that he applied and feels a huge sense of encouragement from the community support both implied by the award, and experienced at the WAMFT conference.
Cheek has spent much of his adolescent and adult life working with a diverse array of families from different backgrounds. He is from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where his first job at age sixteen was as a camp counselor at a day camp in the housing project where he grew up. He went on to become a Washington Service Corps/ AmeriCorps volunteer in 2013 where he worked with immigrant and refugee families. With Americorps, he created and implemented programming for teens coming out of refugee status/ situations. The focus was a hip-hop social club that included songwriting and lyrics analysis and how the meanings could be related to the participant’s lives, with a focus on media awareness and its influence on how different groups of people are represented and perceived in society.
More recently, Cheek worked in social services in Seattle before entering graduate school at Antioch in the fall of 2016. He said that the key features of the Antioch MFT program for him are the excellent support provided for interns, and the concentrated hours of direct support on campus. “You’re not lost in the woods trying to work with clients,” he said. “The faculty place a lot of emphasis on being attuned to your own levels of transference and countertransference. Self-awareness as a therapist is really important.”