“We all pay lip service to self-care, but I think self-care only has meaning if there’s real care inside of it.” – Onyx Fujii 

Exceptional individuals form the links in this chain of 200+ conversations. Go have a listen; I’ll wait. What you’ll undoubtedly notice is that a chat with one person often provides an introduction to another. Onyx Fujii’s contribution arrives by way of the Kintsugi Therapist Collective. Onyx co-founded KTC with friend (and previous CWH guest) Asher Pandjiris. I’m in awe of what the pair have created: a virtual community offering “embodied care, support, wisdom, and resources to trans and non-binary, BIPOC, chronically ill, and disabled mental health providers.” 

One of this conversation’s “off-camera” revelations is that Onyx joined me from their bed. It’s a small win for Onyx, allowing them to honor the day’s physical and mental limits. “Living with a disability is just a condition of humanness. We all one day are going to face disability and death,” they observe. “Just because some of us have been confronted by this much earlier in our lives, this is something that we all live with.” While Covid exposed cracks in overburdened systems, societal acknowledgment of our vulnerability (and interdependence) remains non-existent. Even in a field supposedly aligned with self-care, productivity remains paramount. If mental health providers continue down this path, we’re gonna fall into the chasm sooner rather than later.

The virtual cohorts that Onyx leads via KTC are regenerative spaces for collective liberation rather than workshops for rewinding to the highly polished (and deceptive) pre-Covid “normal.” They imagine a restoration process akin to kintsugi, the Japanese art of visibly mending with a lacquer of precious metal. “In American culture, the goal of fixing something that is broken [ ] is this idea of returning something to how it began, to hide the flaw. This practice is the exact opposite of that. It’s like highlighting the beauty of the brokenness and the repair because then we understand what this object has lived through.”

We’re human and prone to cracking, especially as we weather the challenges of creating ethical, sustainable professional practices. The energetic material we use to repair ourselves and our communities can serve as a poignant reminder of that journey. Let’s mend with gold.


CWH201: Asher Pandjiris – Therapists As Human Beings, Not Machines







Onyx Fujii, LCSW, is a queer, non-binary, chronically ill, mixed-race licensed clinical social worker. They are a home-owner and multiple small businesses owner, living and working on unceded Lenni Lenape land, colonially known as Philadelphia, PA.They are a trauma-informed psychotherapist, a clinical supervisor, an intersectionality-focused cultural humility consultant, and the co-director of the Kintsugi Therapist Collective, LLC.

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