The Becoming's Advisory Board

The Becoming is dedicated to providing accurate information that will empower our community. All content on our website is reviewed by an advisory board, and each member of this board brings a unique background and perspective with them. These experts review all our articles, so you can be sure the information you receive from The Becoming is research-driven. Providing up-to-date information about mental health and therapy is one of the many ways we aim to serve both clients and clinicians in our community.

Matt Dean, MA, MFT

Matt Dean

Director of Operations/Counselor

My journey to becoming a therapist started in my own counseling work. With the help of my therapist, I was able to uncover the deep woundings in my life that were driving the struggles I came to therapy for. I found healing was possible and I want to share that gift with other hurting men.

It is my belief that every individual holds the capacity for healing, growth, and change. In order to start healing, an individual must feel seen, heard and known, beginning with a compassionate, genuine relationship. Within the safety of a genuine relationship, we will begin the hard work of getting to the root of what may be holding each individual back. To do so, I use a trauma informed, integrative approach including EMDR, Narrative therapy, Spiritual Roots System, attachment models, systems models, existential therapy, and experiential therapy.

I am a Marriage and Family Therapist that specializes in working with men from all walks of life. I am working towards full licensure in Tennessee. I hold a master’s degree from Belmont University in Mental Health Counseling with a focus on Marriage and Family Therapy. Additionally, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a focus on Management from East Tennessee State University.

My career has had many iterations, beginning with High School camping ministry through Young Life and professional ministry as a youth pastor. Coming out of ministry, I began working as an IT Project Manager/Consultant for both HCA and Vanderbilt.

Brandon Johnson, MHS

Brandon Johnson, MHS

Advisory Board

Brandon J. Johnson, M.H.S. is a tireless advocate for positive mental health and suicide prevention services for youth and adults across the country and within the local community of Baltimore, MD. He is a subject matter expert in suicide prevention, with a particular focus on suicide prevention planning and suicide prevention strategies for Black youth. Brandon earned a Bachelor of Science Degree from Morgan State University in 2008 and a Master of Health Science Degree from Johns Hopkins University in 2012.

Brandon is the creator of “The Black Mental Wellness Lounge,” a YouTube channel dedicated to discussing Black mental health and healing. The Black Mental Wellness Lounge is a YouTube page dedicated to the promotion of Black mental health tips, education, and resources for the community. The mission is to create content on Black mental health that anyone, whether a professional in the field or not, can use to increase their knowledge and awareness of the specific mental health needs, challenges, and assets of Black people. Each video comes with strategies and resources for Black people on their own path to mental wellness or to help someone else on their journey.

Another highlight of Brandon’s career is his current role as the Co-Lead of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Faith Communities Task Force. The group works with faith communities all over the nation to equip them with tools and resources to combat the often stigmatized issue of suicide.

Previously, Brandon served as the Director of Suicide and Violence Prevention for the State of Maryland where he worked in communities throughout the state to help develop strategies to end violence in various forms, such as community violence and human trafficking. In this role, Brandon also worked on the MD Governor’s Commission on Suicide Prevention as well as organized the annual Suicide Prevention Conference. Outside of his career, Brandon works with youth as a part of the Royalty Youth Ministry of Morning Star Baptist Church in Woodlawn, MD.

Patience Ruffin, EdD, LPC-MHSP, NCC

Patience Ruffin, EdD, LPC-MHSP, NCC


I am licensed in the state of Tennessee as a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Mental Health Service Provider Specialty. I have been practicing counseling since 2007. Prior to obtaining a license, I earned a master’s degree in Professional Counseling from Argosy University Washington, DC and an undergraduate degree in Speech Communications from Tennessee State University. In 2018, I obtained my doctorate degree in Counseling Education and Supervision from Argosy University Nashville.

My experience as a counselor has been honed and developed over the past 12 years through different professional opportunities. I experience working in the clinical and academic setting. I currently specialize in substance use disorders, trauma, gender specific, phase of life, and family of origin issues. I have experience with individual, couple, family, and group therapy.

I am passionate about the journey of healing and discovery through the counseling process. I believe that one finds purpose and meaning through exploring experiences and perceptions that have hindered growth and development. Working together, I believe one can find a sense of self and begin the path of self-discovery.