How Former Ebony Fashion Fair Model Dr. Jada Jackson Reframed Her Life After the Runway

The Licensed Mental Health Counselor talks modeling career, mental health stigmas, her latest book and how everyone can benefit from therapy

Dr. Jada Jackson

“Everyone needs therapy”, urges San Francisco native, Dr. Jada Jackson. A Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), Professional Counselor, National Certified Counselor, former Fashion Fair model/commentator, television host, life coach, and author; Jackson is not your average therapist. Specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy, mental health and wellness are what drives Jackson to do what she does so well.

Recognizing that she was unique relatively young, at the age of 19, Jackson’s first career was rooted in the beauty industry. Standing at 5’9 by the age of 12, Jackson’s mother signed her up for modeling school. While she also played basketball and danced, the modeling seeds were planted early and ultimately came to fruition being discovered by an agent while at the gym. Modeling with the likes of Tyra Banks and Kristy Turlington, Jackson soon signed on with the Ebony Fashion Fair Tour, modeling for one year and commentating for the following nine years. Traveling the world, visiting 180 cities and walking over 2000 runways, a considerable part of that chapter was also spent coaching young women to be the best they could be. “You’re powerful, you’re worthy” remembers Jackson as she found herself on her soapbox, managing to empower women wherever she went.

After leaving the beauty industry, Jackson found herself still longing for the entertainment aspect. Transitioning to television Jackson says, “I was no longer a hanger presenting clothes, but now I had a voice and what I said mattered. It’s more than just about how I looked, which is important, but now I could advocate for things that were important to me. I could give tips and tricks on how to live a healthier and well-balanced life…these things are important to me.”

Transitioning to Your Authentic Self

Originally seeking a career in broadcast journalism, Jackson attained her Bachelor’s degree in Professional and Organizational Communication from Regent University, followed by two Master’s degrees in Human Services Counseling and Counseling Psychology with a concentration in Mental Health. The conversation around mental health, particularly in the black community has been frequent with celebrities becoming more transparent about their opinions and struggles on the topic.

“Minorities, unfortunately, do not seek help in the mental health realm at large quantities. I think that should change because everyone needs therapy! And that is not a negative thing” says Jackson.  “If you are a human, you’re going through life issues. And the reality is, we are transitioning through stages of development, growing pains. Things happen where you don’t know how you’re going to handle this.”

I asked Jackson how millennials could take care of their mental health in today’s climate:

  1. Remove the stigma of mental health
  2. Minimize what you look at on social media

Admitting to her that I often take frequent breaks from my social media platforms, Jackson wholeheartedly believes in unplugging when needed. On the topic of social media, Jackson advises “If you’re going to submerge yourself in various social media platforms, know who you are, what you want, how you’re going to get there and who’s going to help you. When you know these things, you can manage your emotions a little bit better.”

Reframe and Manifest

Reframe, the title of Dr. Jackson’s latest book follows the clinical track of the reframing process. “What you think is what you feel, what you feel is what you do,” says Jackson. “If you can identify faulty thought patterns, we can teach a person to reform their thoughts and embrace the reformation for them to change how they feel about something.” Recognizing the power of the tongue, I was particularly interested in the ability to manifest one’s thoughts into reality. Dr. Jackson followed up my open-ended thought with the question “What’s the best strategy for me to thrive?” What seemed like a rhetorical question, she offered sage advice on just how to do so; establish a healthy support system. She recalls a friend of hers conducting research that stated, according to the five people around us, our average income will stay within that range.

Dr. Jackson shared this insight to show the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone and forging new relationships outside of your immediate existence. “I have five different mentors, a speaking coach, business coach, a therapist/spiritual advisor, a clinical/mental health coach and a family therapy coach. I am still in contact with all of them and know that I can reach out if needed.” Jackson herself has many mentees and emphasizes the importance of not being afraid of admitting you need help!

Keys to Happiness

The key word in my conversation with Dr. Jackson was authentic. “Authenticity is the key to happiness” she professes “that your authentic self has to be grounded in one’s core belief system.” What is Jackson’s core belief system you ask? Trusting God, standing on faith, and being kind to others. “If we continue to promote love and kindness, it’ll eventually come back to us!”

I couldn’t help but wonder what the future looked like for Dr. Jackson, and not being your average therapist still holds true. Currently wrapping up filming the second season of The Weather Channel’s SOS: How to Survive, Dr. Jackson is now the psychology professional on a new television series, as well as other shows in the works. With hopes to continue traveling, writing more books, and launching the Reframe Women’s Conference centered around her book in 2019, Dr. Jackson admits that she has many things on her plate, but the fun continues.

Sitting on the Couch

Although the conversation has shifted around mental health, the stigma still exists within minority communities. The idea that we can pray our depression away or that mental health issues are not a real thing affect how we seek treatment. Regent University, a Christian school, exposed Jackson to the parallels between medicine and spirituality. “From a psychological perspective, everything I learned is rooted in biblical principles. When it comes to cognitive behavior, Dr. Jackson says Romans 12:1 relays it perfectly, ‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ In order to transform your life, you have to transform your thinking about your life. Whether you call it sin or maladaptive behavior, dealing with mind, body, and spirit, you have to manage and govern accordingly.”

Although there are people who still come in to ‘sit on the couch’, Dr. Jackson does offer etherapy. Much like services such as Talk Space, etherapy allows those who are continually moving, out of state or those who value their privacy to seek still the help they need. Based in Dallas, Dr. Jackson urges readers to come in or find her on social media including Instagram @drjadajackson and Facebook @iamjadajackson.

Soaking in all her sage words of advice, Dr. Jackson left me with one to especially remember. “Recognizing that being your true and authentic self-means you are not perfect. And that means you don’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. If I am going to be who I am authentically, it means to accept me just as I am. Whatever I choose to do that is different, that’s just something that accentuates what’s already perfect.”

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