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

As a bi-racial individual myself, I have a special place in my heart to partner with others who identify as multi-racial or multi-cultural to process the experience of living between two (or more) worlds and learn how to embrace their own, unique identity. There have been many times in my own life where I have been told I am not “Latinx enough” or that I don’t look the right way. It felt isolating and incongruent. For much of my life I held this shame and did not have the right words, or a place

— Danae Merrill, Licensed Professional Counselor Intern in Portland, OR

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 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 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

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 Rajabari, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Berkeley, CA

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

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 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

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

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

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

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 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

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

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