For the past nine years, Avalaura Gaither Beharry has been transforming the lives of women in the D.C. metro area through her company, Avalaura’s Healing Center. Beharry works primarily with women who are high-powered leaders. She likes to refer to them as “recovering perfectionists.”
“They’re women who are trying to do big things in the world, but they’re recognizing that somehow their life is out of balance,” Beharry said. “So maybe they’re doing really well professionally, but they need help in their personal life, or maybe they’re just realizing that they’re not at the level that they want to be in life.”
In addition to one-on-one coaching and spiritual counseling, Beharry’s calendar is often filled with workshops and speaking engagements. Her educational accolades include a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in social work from Howard University.
Utilizing alternative methods of healing are an important aspects of her practice. Beharry is a certified hypnotherapist, holistic aromatherapist, yoga instructor, and trained reiki master/teacher.
“One of the beautiful things about holistic art is that it can work for so many different things on so many different levels – so I may have clients who come to me for reiki treatment for stress relief, clarity, or focus,” she says. “A lot of my reiki students are cancer patients or breast cancer survivors.”
As an African-American woman, she has found her peers are slower to embrace her services, barred by the stigma associated with mental health issues in the Black community. When she opened her practice in 2005, Blacks did not make up the majority of her clientele, even though they may have needed it the most.
“It’s very important for Black women because we come from a history and a legacy of feeling like we’re super women and we can do it all. It’s hard for a lot of Black women to simply acknowledge that they need help and to then take a step further to ask for help,” she said. “It’s almost like a sign of weakness – like something is wrong with me because I’m admitting that I need help and I simply cannot take on all the roles that I’m playing.”
In recent years, she has seen an evolution among her clients. Many now are women of color and see the benefits of Beharry’s consulting as worthwhile for them.
“I really work with my clients to help them be their best and authentic self – to operate from their truth, purpose, and power to be the person they envisioned they could be, but didn’t know how to get there,” she said. “They finally learn that balance of being able to take care of themselves, to meet their needs so they can take care of their families, friends, husbands and children and still figure out how to have it all.”