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How Dr. Mariel Buqué is making therapy accessible to people of color

The invaluable work of the professionals and influencers who highlight the real mental health issues affecting members of the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community has greatly diminished the stigma around mental illness. Dr. Mariel Buqué is one of the professionals at the forefront of this effort. This Afro-Dominican psychologist combines ancient practices with conventional techniques to create a one-of-a-kind healing experience. She has dedicated her life to ‘breaking the cycle’ of intergenerational trauma, and to that end, Dr. Buqué has made herself available to multiple outlets, and television networks. She is also launching a book entitled Break the Cycle: A Guide to Healing Intergenerational Trauma, in January 2024 .

Dr. Mariel Buqué was kind enough to answer questions about her upcoming book, her unique practice, and the importance of addressing generational trauma in women of Caribbean and African descent.

Tell us about your new book. What inspired you to write it, and what can readers expect?

Mariel: My book is called Break the Cycle and it’s a comprehensive guide to healing from a lineage of pain. I wrote this book because in my work as a clinical psychologist, I kept seeing people coming into my office with stories of emotional pain and family dysfunction that spanned generations. I began to work with my clients through holistic therapy methods to help them heal. It was my desire for more people to heal from this type of pain. The book grew out of that desire; to help equip a generation of cycle breakers to step out of trauma and into intergenerational abundance. Readers can expect to feel seen, heard, and to heal within the pages of this book.

Please explain to our audience what you do as a holistic psychologist and intergenerational trauma expert. 

Mariel: My role as a holistic psychologist is to offer therapy techniques that are a fusion of ancient healing methods with modern psychotherapy practices. I take a mind, body, spirit approach to my work, which means that I work on helping to heal the whole person from the remnants of trauma. That’s because trauma is an emotional experience that impacts all of these three dimensions. My approach aims to heal all of these layers. As an intergenerational trauma expert, I help people understand how trauma has been recycled and normalized in their families of origin and help them adopt holistic methods of healing to break the cycle of trauma in their families.

Why is your work particularly important for our community of women of Caribbean and African descent? 

Mariel: We deserve to be healed, simply put. So many generations of our communities have been operating in survival mode, and living under layers of intergenerational trauma. The pain and hurt that we have suffered is so vast and continues to impact our lives on a daily basis. We deserve the ease of joy and the abundance that comes from breaking the cycle. That, to me, is the main reason why it is important to heal intergenerational trauma in our communities.

Tell us about your Caribbean heritage, and how you think this has fueled your work and success. 

Mariel: My heritage has been such a major motivator for my healing work. My grandmother’s love and wisdom, in particular, has motivated me to do healing work that touches the lives of my Caribbean people. I wish someone had offered my grandmother these tools to help her heal in her lifetime. That is why I have made it my mission to offer access to healing tools to people, who like my grandmother, have suffered and deserve to feel lighter in their lifetime.

By simply being yourself, you have opened the doors of representation for women of color in the spheres of psychology and mental health. You are colorful, vibrant, speak with an accent, and you are beautiful. Has all of who you are presented any challenges or opportunities along your journey?

This question warms my heart. My authentic voice has offered other women who look like me, the permission to be themselves. For that, I am grateful. I always say that I bring all of my sauce (or sazón) to spaces that weren’t traditionally built for people like me, including the therapy industry. I bring my genuine voice to this work and let others adjust to my presence. Showing up as a therapist of color, who’s heavily tattooed, speaks Spanglish, has a nose ring, funky hair, uses humor to reach the hearts of people she wishes to serve, and listens to lively music, is my jam. I love that I am not this blank slate that people can’t connect with. My people are vibrant and so I want to show up to this work as vibrant as we are. We should never dim our light to facilitate the comfort of others. It’s emotional suppression to do so, and my hope is to model full, unfiltered, emotional expression instead. I have come across people who aren’t ready to accept my authenticity. Those aren’t my people and I’m ok with that. I show up fully to life, because at the end of the day, I have to go to sleep knowing that I showed up to life in a way that makes my ancestors proud. 

What are three key mental health practices you can share with our audience of women of Caribbean and African descent? 

Mariel:  My three best suggestions would be to dance your heart out. Especially if the dance has the beat of a drum somewhere in the song. Dance like no one is watching and allow your body to release all of that trauma tension that’s been stored in your body for generations. Let it out and step into your softness and abundance. Second, hum a song that brings you peace. Humming can actually stimulate your nervous system’s relaxation response and is good practice for when you’re feeling stressed. Finally, stay close to places where you feel love and warmth. The current world we live in is one where you will constantly be reminded of the lack of love and validation you are offered because of your identities. Combat those moments with more moments where you feel deep love from those who are able to offer it to you.

Follow www.drmarielbuque.com

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