“Dr. Joy has done something that we need. It is very clear this is a labor of love and comes from a real place. I started the book two and a half weeks ago and wept. Every chapter makes me want to tell everyone about it. I messaged my college friends and my sorority sisters telling them we have to do the activities in the book,” said Kimberland Jackson, moderator of the event.

Photo Credit: Passion Ward Credit: Passion Ward

This is one of many reactions of the women who read Sisterhood Heals. A book about the transformative power of healing in the community and how to nurture and grow friendships. Dr. Joy Harden Bradford,  a licensed psychologist and host of the award-winning podcast Therapy for Black Girls, wrote the book. Dr. Joy came to South Florida to discuss the book and share how the audience can develop friendships to replenish rather than drain.

“In the book, there is a sisterhood health survey. I love a good assessment because you can’t figure out what’s happening without a baseline. This assessment you can take with your friends to find out what type of sister they are and explore how people are showing up for you” said Dr. Joy.

An evening with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford happened on Tuesday, July 11, at Book and Books in Coral Gables, Florida. Dr. Joy publicly discussed the book with Kimberland Jackson,  a melanated life coach and mental health advocate. The women discussed how Dr. Joy created the book and the concepts readers can use to evaluate their friendships.

“As much as the book is a celebration of sisterhood, it’s also a challenge for us to do better with each other. We need to handle each other more gently. There was much rewriting to ensure this wasn’t a tough love read. I wanted the book to translate care rather than tough love because I don’t think we ever change or get better with tough handling,” said Dr. Joy.

Melanted Life Coach Kimberland Jackson converses with Dr. Joy Harden Bradford about Sisterhood Heals at Books and Books in Coral Gables, FL. Photo Credit: Passion Ward

Sisterhood Heals was released on June 27. The book caters to Black women, but the ideas within the novel are so good that anyone can use them to gauge their relationships. Sisterhood Heals is Dr. Joy’s first book. She shared that Sisterhood Heals was originally supposed to be a women’s retreat in Atlanta, GA, but the pandemic changed those plans. Dr. Joy conversed with her literary agent and transformed the subject of that retreat into the book. Sisterhood Heals dives into what we learned from the women in our families, what type of sister you are, and how to show up for sisters who are having a hard time.   

Dr. Joy Harden Bradford signed copies of Sisterhood Heals at Books and Books in Coral Gables, FL. Photo Credit: Passion Ward

“A lot of us want to show up but don’t know what to do. We often say, “Call me if you need something.” While that may be helpful and well-intentioned, people who are struggling with depression or anxiety most of the time don’t know what they need, and that becomes an additional burden. What can be done at those moments is to think of something they need but wouldn’t ask for. That could be Getting food delivered, handling laundry, even helping them find a therapist,” said Dr. Joy.

Dr.Joy and Jackson’s conversation got into the subject of dissolving friendships. Dr. Joy explains that a friendship usually dissolves when one of three things happen. Someone gets engaged or married, becomes pregnant or has a baby, or gets a career promotion. Dr. Joy breaks down that in each of those scenarios; people are grieving at the idea of their relationship not being the same as it used to be. Instead of people expressing happiness for one another, people tend to act out in passive-aggressive ways.

“Tough Conversation can unlock a new level of intimacy within a friendship. People grieve when major transitions happen. We don’t have the language to express grief. In the book, I have scripts that can start those conversations. People appreciate it when you bring it to the table,” said Dr. Joy.

The audience listening to the conversation about Sisterhood Heals at Books and Books in Coral Gables, FL.  Photo Credit: Passion Ward

“What often happens in engagements and marriage is it reactivates childhood wounds of the abdomen. Like those early feelings of not getting picked first. They come back, and we don’t even recognize it.” said Dr. Joy.

Sisterhood Heals has more on this material and other methods anyone can use to evaluate and strengthen friendships. Dr. Joy has created a book with concepts everybody can apply to be a better friend and have better bonds. Sisterhood Heals is available everywhere books are sold.

Clayton Gutzmore is a freelance journalist in South Florida. He published stories in several news outlets including The Miami Times, 91.3 WLRN, The Atlanta Voice, BET, and Variety Magazine. Gutzmore graduated...