Client Spotlight: Kesma Flame Lily Therapies LLC

Petronellah Thomas-Shanobi welcomes all of her clients with open arms, creating a safe space for all those who hurt.

Humanity is the driving force behind the South African philosophy behind Ubuntu. Often translated as "I am because we are," or "humanity towards others,” Ubuntu is rooted in compassion and acceptance of all. Ubuntu also provides the foundation and framework for trauma-informed multicultural behavior health providers, Kesma Flame Lily Therapies LLC.  

Fifteen years ago, Petronellah Thomas-Shanobi MS.c, LPCC, "Petra" to friends and colleagues, was living and working in England as a clinical mental health nurse. One evening, she was asked to cover a shift in the far-off county of Cheshire. Uncertain of what would meet her upon arrival, she drove through blistering winds and snow only to stumble upon a career-defining moment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) tests were taking place within her place of work to explore patients' ability to utilize talk-therapy skills instead of medication. “That was it,” Petra recalls. “These nurse-practitioners were discovering that not everyone could, or wanted to, take medication. I was captivated by the skills they presented to these patients. Cheshire became a haven of discovery and I wanted to return as soon as I could. I knew then, I was on my way to becoming a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist.”  

It’s clear that Petra herself is rooted in community. When she came to WomenVenture as a loan client, she shone with her bright ideas, servant spirit, and clear resiliency. “I’ve never walked away from WomenVenture shaking my head. I’m always inspired and excited – And I was introduced to a whole new community to be involved in!” Petra laughs. She also serves as a board member for two different organizations here in the Twin Cities, ensuring she can uplift the needs of her community and provide support. She is also heavily involved at the University of Minnesota, as a LEND fellow. Here she inspires the next generation of therapists and behavioral scientists through lectures and inter-disciplinary work with her colleagues. 

And she’s certainly brought that community spirit to her business. Kesma Flame Lily Therapies was founded on the basis that individuals need to be celebrated and welcomed, regardless of their past. Many individuals are ostracized by family members, former friends, and often aren’t welcomed elsewhere in their lives. Ubuntu serves this purpose – making each client who walks through their doors feel safe and comfortable. “When you ask someone, ‘What do you want?’ that’s your buy-in.” Petra explains.  “You need to meet people wherever they happen to be on that day. When I meet a new client, I say, ‘Congratulations for coming to therapy. This is your season. We will work to clear the clutter so that the new chapter you want to embark on is ready to meet you.’ And they know that they can trust me. That they are safe.”  

Safety and trust are especially important to Kesma Flame Lily Therapies right now. Being one of the only therapists of color in Minnesota, Petra feels a responsibility to each of the communities of color here in Minneapolis. Over the past month, she’s received an overwhelming amount of support requests from these communities considering recent events.  “The entire Black community had to watch an extremely triggering event. It’s not easy to process, and it’s not easy to have conversations around. This was the ripping of a band-aid to bare an entire culture’s collective open wound.” COVID too has presented a new world full of emerging mental health issue: Kesma Flame Lily Therapies have been as busy as ever. Because of this, Petra has been able to onboard two new staff members and is hoping to grow even further during this pivotal point in society.  

“[Kesma] Flame Lily is here to provide help. To serve our community. To give structure, and hope. We’re inspired by talk of rebuilding our community in an inclusive light – and us women entrepreneurs of color need to be heavily involved. But while we rebuild, we need your support. Shop black-women-owned businesses. Read books we’ve written. Listen to what we have to say.  Invest in our community, and we can all succeed.”  

You can find Kesma Flame Lily LLC online here, or at 2800 Freeway Blvd Ste 204, Minneapolis, MN 55430.