How many times has a client opened up to you during their hair appointment?

Hair appointments are therapeutic for many clients, but there’s one problem. 

Most hair stylists do not have training or formal education to handle emotional baggage that’s not their own. 

In other words, they’re not mental health counselors or licensed therapists. 

In fact, there are no known accredited training programs that specifically offer coursework on connecting hair to mental health.

Yet, one in three clients consider their hair stylist to be like a therapist.

That’s where PsychoHairapy comes in. 👇

What Is PsychoHairapy — and How Can I Get Certified?

Hair stylists have always been considered caregivers.

Clients open up to their stylists about family dynamics, career aspirations, relationship challenges, financial concerns, and other intimate topics. 

But as unofficial therapists, how do stylists transform their salons and booths into safe spaces?

And how do they protect their own mental health while servicing clients?

PsychoHairapy: A Global Hair and Mental Health Movement

PsychoHairapy is the brainchild of Washington, D.C.-based clinical psychologist Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka

It’s a global movement that bridges the gap between mental health and hair care. 

PsychoHairapy Certification 

The PsychoHairapy Certification is a 12-hour training course that equips stylists and barbers with a mental health first aid kit. 

Developed in 2019 by Dr. Mbilishaka, who is also a hair stylist, this certification gives you the “micro-counseling” skills to more confidently handle your clients’ appointments-turned-“hairapy” sessions.

“The PsychoHairapy Certification equips stylists and barbers with the skills to administer culturally-informed mental health first aid and provides a curated therapist directory of local mental health professionals,” she said. 

PsychoHairapy covers three key areas of emotional intelligence:

  • How to identify, understand, and empathize with signs of mental illness
  • How to respond to common client mental-health concerns
  • How to refer clients to mental health professionals if a client reveals a concern that would necessitate speaking with a therapist or counselor

PsychoHairapy teaches hair stylists that your words and conversations in the salon can heal, and you, too, are not alone.” —Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka

Dr. Mbilishaka is also a hair historian. 

In addition to teaching about mental health, in this certification, she also talks about the history of Black hair.

She explains why hair is so emotionally, culturally, and historically significant to Black communities –– and why everyone should learn with empathy.

“Our hair… can reflect our physical and mental health,” Dr. Mbilishaka said to Allure

“[It’s] such a sophisticated and complex language, we need people who are multilingual to be able to process what’s going on in the hair.”

She points out that in certain ancient African societies, unmaintained or poorly groomed hair is seen as a sign of mental illness, “a cry for help to other people in the community to reach out and support you.” 

And now, with a first-of-its-kind certification, stylists are more prepared than ever to answer that call for support.

Dr. Mbilishaka’s work has garnered widespread acclaim for its impact on improving mental health through culturally competent practices and community engagement.

In 2023, she shared with Well+Good

“To reach large numbers of this population, PsychoHairapy is centered on addressing the psychological needs of people who are often neglected, by offering accessible options in the safe space of the hair salon.”

If you’re interested in getting the PsychoHairapy certification, mark your calendar for this year’s certification dates

(They’re mostly virtual and happen about once a month.) 

Plus, you get a discount for getting your whole team on board. 

That’s right. You don’t have to work on mental health in isolation. 

If you sign up for the certification with other stylists – which is super easy if you’re working out of a salon – you can get certified in small groups for a discounted price. 

PsychoHairapy Listening Hours

If you’re more interested in community support, PsychoHairapy Listening Hours is a free – donations recommended – weekly 90-minute safe space for stylists who want to be seen, heard, and held. 

“Listening Hours is an intimate, online group space (held over Zoom) for the discussion of life, death, and everything in between,” according to the website. 

“For us, and by us, [Listening Hours is] a co-created, unstructured conversation where we talk and listen.”

(For individual therapy appointments, PsychoHairapy is dropping hour-long Talk Therapy meetings soon! Join the waitlist here.)

PsychoHairapy Presentations

Want to learn more about what PsychoHairapy stands for? 

Speaking presentations are a great way to explore mindful solutions for mental health and hair care as a group. 

Topics are discussed by field experts, like Dr. Mbilishaka, and can even be catered to your hair salon or barbershop.

PsychoHairapy Book Club & Events

Every month, PsychoHairapy hosts a book club meeting focused on a text that centers the Black experience with mental health, hair, identity, and more.

Past reads include:

PsychoHairapy also hosts events, including meet-and-greets; workshops, like Mental Health Skills for Makeup Artists; and panel discussions. 

PsychoHairapy and Schedulicity: Hair Care that Actually Cares

Known as the scheduling app that cares, Schedulicity is collaborating with Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka to create exclusive new resources for hair stylists and barbers in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month:

Dr. Mbilishaka is also hosting a free live webinar with Schedulicity on May 21, 2024, to:

  • Explore how hair care practices and mental wellness are so deeply connected
  • Give practical advice on self-care, holistically nurturing both the mind and the scalp
  • Offer insights into how hair care routines can be powerful acts of self-love and mental health maintenance
  • Answer intimate questions from you(!) about mental health, client relationships, and more

Mental Health Resources for Hair Stylists

We’re more than just a booking app. 

Schedulicity truly cares about the mental health and wellbeing of all our businesses and the industry as a whole. 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, burnt out, stressed, or anxious, here’s a list of resources and open helplines to contact: