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Food for Thought: What We’re All Feeling

@BFPLNY Instagram Live

The Food for Thought discussion series continues virtually on Thursday, July 16th, as Brookfield Place presents a Q&A-style conversation between licensed therapists Alyssa Petersel and Ayana Ali, who will answer mental health and wellness questions submitted anonymously by the public.  Petersel is Founder and CEO of MyWellbeing, and Ali has worked in the public mental health and intellectual disabilities fields for over 20 years. This event will present the public with a unique opportunity to anonymously ask a licensed therapist anything. Questions will be collected ahead of time in a variety of ways, including through the link below. Big or small, general or specific, all questions and concerns are valid, especially during this particularly overwhelming time. Chances are, it’s what we’re all feeling.

The event will take place on @BFPLNY’s Instagram Live, as part of #BFPLatHome digital programming.


The Food for Thought monthly series explores themes related to wellness and sustainability. Hear from influential voices from various fields and be a part of the conversation during the Q&A segment. This series will take place on the third Thursday of each month, through November 2020.

Connect via @BFPLNY Instagram >>

Missed May’s Food for Thought on fitness and setting personal goals? View it HERE.


Alyssa Petersel, LMSW is Founder and CEO of MyWellbeing, where she and her team connect people with the *right* therapist, while helping therapists build and manage their business. Alyssa, also a writer and therapist, released her award-winning debut narrative nonfiction anthology, Somehow I Am Different, in 2016. Alyssa graduated from Northwestern University in 2013, graduated summa cum laude from New York University in 2017 with her Master’s in Social Work, and graduated from The Writer’s Institute at CUNY Graduate Center in 2017. Named one of Crain’s Notable Women in Healthcare 2019, Alyssa and her team have helped over 15,000 people find the right therapist for them and have been featured in prominent publications like Forbes, Allure, HuffPost, Cosmopolitan, bloom, and more. MyWellbeing supports thousands more through innovative, stigma-ending content and community building. A native New Yorker, in her off-hours, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her friends and family, social justice, and learning more about others’ cultures and world views.

Ayana Ali has worked in the public mental health and intellectual disabilities fields for over 20 years.  A licensed clinical social worker, she has worked in diverse settings, everywhere from the shelter and state psychiatric systems to mental health clinics and immigrant assistance work.  She has also run departments devoted to quality assurance, providing mobile psychiatric and clinical care as well case management services to the seriously and persistently mentally ill.  In addition, Ayana has had her own private practice and professional development company for 15 years.  Over the last 15 years, in addition to offering psychotherapeutic services to a great number of women of color, the eponymous practice, Ayana Ali Counseling Services has partnered with agencies like Edwin Gould and Salew People Solutions as well as churches and other mental health providers.  The company’s goal is to provide clinical services and oversight, spread information about mental health, especially in the black community, facilitate grief and loss sessions and to work with businesses seeking to increase their delivery of culturally competent and anti-racist services.  She is committed to black women’s issues, infertility and pregnancy loss survivors as well as anti-racist therapy.  She focuses her company’s work in these areas.

Ayana is a wife to a wonderful husband, Shaffiat, as well as mother to a headstrong toddler, Zaida and a 10 year old dog, Dixie.  She believes that it is her life’s calling to help women to fare better in life and to improve their mental health. As a black woman, she is deeply committed to serving other black and BIPOC women who have experienced some of the same challenges that she has.


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