Racial Identity

Racial identity is a multifaceted construct, the development of which is a lifelong process that involves how a person interprets messages about racial groups. Racial identity has been described as the significance and meaning of race in one’s life. Our racial identity is an important part of how we see ourselves and how others see us. Racial identity development is relevant to all racial groups – but typically plays a larger role in the experiences of minorities. Many things can influence an individual’s racial identity, including pop culture and current events. If you are working through issues related to racial identity, reach out to one of TherapyDen’s experts today.

Meet the specialists

Exploring topics of racial, cultural, and ethnic background as it relates to one’s family origins, personal identity, and experience navigating work and school. I work often from Dr. Helm's Racial Identity Development Theory as well as Social Interaction Model, to consider the role of power dynamics in problems related to prejudice, lack of awareness, and social injustice.

— Stephanie Thrower, Psychologist in Woburn, MA

I am Hispanic, and in this country that makes me a minority. But I was not raised as one. In Puerto Rico most of us are Brown. I only had to contend with race & ethnicity after I left the island. I guess you could say I was lucky. I can tell you, it was a rude awakening. I choose to put the awareness & sensitivity that I've gained to work, by helping people of all ages who are grappling with the reality of what it means to be a person of color in this country, visibly different, visibly "other."

— Dr. Michelle Alvarez, Clinical Psychologist in Asheville, NC

I am passionate about working with multicultural clients who are exploring and deepening their racial identity. As a multicultural person myself, I understand the complexity of identifying with two or more cultures or races. I am especially drawn to work with people who identify/identified with a majority or privileged aspect of their identity and are now desiring to integrate their whole self.

— Angeline Miller, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Austin, TX

I am a nationally recognized expert for my research and work with biracial, multi-ethnic/racial, and interracial families. I am biracial, Austrian-Hungarian/African American.

— Dr. Patricia D. Johnson, Marriage & Family Therapist in Encino, CA

This challenging time can leave us feeling confused about our identities and place in the world. Whether you are exploring what it means to be an ally, or navigating more complex issues such as biracial, multiracial, or racism or systemic issues, I can provide a safe space to support your feelings. I work within a trauma-informed, and systemic framework while remaining nonjudgemental and kind.

— Gloria Zhang, Psychotherapist in Toronto,

Being a biracial (Black and Filipino) clinician, I have a natural passion for journeys of self-discovery and the complexity of claiming your identity. I love working with individuals on not feeling like they have to place themselves in a box (whether racial, sexual, gender, cultural, etc.) and finding out who they are as an individual. I want people to know that a journey starting with insecurity can end with acceptance of self.

— Shavonne James, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Long Beach, CA

I'll never forget the first time I filled out a standardized test in school. I was in elementary school and I remember the words "Choose One" being written in bold under the heading "Race." Biracial was not an option. I remember choosing white because I was the only nonwhite student in my class and I didn't want to be different. Thus began a long and complicated relationship with my racial identity. It's hard when you are forced to choose a box and it's hard when others automatically put you in a box. I enjoy helping clients explore the complexities of racial identity and the very real stress that it can cause.

— Anne Rice, Licensed Professional Counselor in Avondale Estates, GA

As the adult children of immigrants, I have struggled to bridge across my parts - my American parts, my South Asian parts. I can work with you to help you on your journey to better understand, identify, and be with your racial identity.

— Annu Sood, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

One's racial identity is a complex component of who their are. People of color must navigate a world that increasingly is pushing them to reject their own culture, while internally containing their sense of self. If you work with me I promise to help you navigate the minefield of self-identity, mass culture identity, and your culture's views on your racial identity. Together I know we will be able to find the You that you want to be; not the you society claims you should be.

— Austin Knight, Counselor in Grand Rapids, MI

Racial identity and the effects of racial oppression was an area of focus in my undergraduate education. I also graduated from a graduate school of social work that required integration of racial oppression and racial justice in every scholarly paper, as well as a competency that was required to be demonstrated in foundation and advanced year practicums and internships. As a biracial (African American and Korean) person, I know all too well the the pain of racial inequity.

— Brian Prester, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Seattle, WA

America is full of diversity, hope, and opportunities. But for many International students and professionals, settling into a new culture can bring about anxieties, self-doubt, and feeling out-of-place. The process of acculturation can bring about unique challenges in their career, personal life, and relationships. But adaptation does not mean surrendering to social pressure and changing the core of who you are. You will master the confidence to live as your most authentic self wherever you are.

— Biyang Wang, Psychotherapist in Chicago, IL

I entered the field of therapy because I noticed there is a lack of support and structure for those who are racial minorities. Our world is filled with rhetoric of what it means to be a racial minority now and my goal is to ensure that you belong.

— Cayla Minaiy, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in SEATTLE, WA

I love working with multiethnic/multicultural clients. Examples of that are Third Culture Kids, mixed ethnicity, POC, and second generation immigrants. Blending of different worlds passport to different world views. I appreciate my clients' personal stories as valuable to the work, and I connect from my own lived experience.

— Deva Segal, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in San Francisco, CA

I have worked with numerous clients of a multitude of diverse backgrounds who are struggling to navigate their lives in harmony with their racial identity. These clients have sought my competency in multicultural counseling and generational trauma in order to help them understand their identity as a racial being.

— Emma Frazier, Counselor in Decatur, GA

Much of my graduate level research and training has been in understanding the complex racial identity development of people of color and White individuals. My dissertation research included examining how Black clients responded to White therapists who overtly broach cross-racial differences in the therapy session.

— Catherine Bitney, Clinical Psychologist in Austin, TX

Self-identity is a cornerstone of an authentic life. It encompasses your values and how you want to relate to others. However, finding who you are is a journey itself, and can be suppressed due to systemic oppression, family expectations, or cultural changes. I offer the existential approach and internalized oppression model for you to explore your identity and how to share it in a safe and gentle manner.

— Kaori Oto, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Seattle, WA

Cultural beliefs, expectations, norms, taboos and upbringing…influences who we are, how we think and therefore the mental health care system for people of color need to be examined within that context. as an Afro-Caribbean American woman I understand that the intersections of race, ethnicity, culture and sexuality needs to be considered in the therapy process. finding a licensed mental health professional that has the knowledge to help people of color engage, explore and evolve is essential

— Jennifer Elve, Counselor in Seattle, WA

I work with people who are struggling with racial, ethnic, and cultural identity. This includes multi-racial,multi-ethnic and multi-cultural individuals, and couples in mixed racial or ethnic/cultural partnerships. As well as first generation immigrants and the children of immigrants. I also work with folks who are struggling with their identity at the intersection of their sexuality, gender, spirituality, and dis/ability status.

— Jennie Powe Runde, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Oakland, CA

Race informs every area of our lives--relationships, social, familial, financial, educational, medical, gender, class, safety and more. I believe deep and profound healing can happen through the exploration of racial identity. I use a decolonizing framework to assist clients in defining the impact of race in their lives and work to develop and recognize the client's strengths and inner resources to navigate race-related stress and trauma.

— Camara Meri Rajabari, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, CA

My parents are immigrants from Taiwan, and I was born in the States. Asian-American identities can be hard to navigate, especially when we might not feel like we totally fit in to Western or Eastern cultures. I work from an intersectional, multicultural perspective that considers a well-rounded, multidimensional look about who you are and what you value so that you can develop a more confident and authentic sense of self.

— Stephanie Wang, Licensed Professional Counselor

I enjoy helping clients explore racial identity development across cultures. Helping clients who they in the world and how culture and race play a role in that.

— Moraya DeGeare, Marriage & Family Therapist in Minnetonka, MN

I specialize in working with multi-racial individuals and those from multi-racial, multi-cultural families.

— Loretta Staples, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in New Haven, CT

I enjoy working with individuals exploring their racial identity in relation to experiences of cultural and systemic oppression, and the expression of symptoms of anxiety and depression. My work in this area has looked at acculturative stressors and supports, as well as the racialization of immigrant groups and the impacts on identity integration. As racial identity intersects with so many elements of a person’s history and lived experience, this work affords a personal-political perspective.

— Shelby Ortega, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist in Salem, MA

Those of us who live in the United States often enact our racial traumas on others or ourselves. No matter what your racial identity is (or if you're still developing one), all of our lives and communities are shaped by the concept of race. Most people follow an arc where they may start out being naive to difference, then strongly conforming, then angry at and ashamed of themselves and society, then back again. Exploring your identity can help you cope better with yourself and the world.

— Marissa Lee, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Los Angeles, CA