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


I love working with multiethnic/multicultural clients. Examples of that are mixed race or ethnicity, POC, Third Culture Kids, and second generation immigrants. Containing multiple identities means holding multiple truths within. I bring 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

As a light-skinned, mixed race person, questions of identity have been central in my life. As a family member of people of all skin colors, I have learned about the cultural factors associated with how we appear to others. My training, community work, and work with clients focuses on racial and ethnic identity and the systems of oppression and discrimination that isolate us, and how we can reconnect with ourselves, our identities, and our communities in healing and refreshing ways.

— Lucy Marrero, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Thousand Oaks,

I am experienced in working with clients regarding their relationship with issues of racial identity and it's personal impacts as well as the wider social context.

— Simone Ayers, Counselor

As a multiracial person, I love to explore the nuances of racial identity with clients. I seek to approach our work together with cultural humility, knowing I can never be an expert in any one culture including my own. I enjoy working with couples of different racial identities and the unique challenges and strengths that can arise from the partnership.

— Analisa Jayasekera, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in St. Paul, MN

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

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

Identity encompasses every aspect of who we are as a person, a part of a community, a sexual being, and much more. It is not just genetic markers, it is also sex, gender, orientation, likes and dislikes. Identity is wrapped up in the question: who am I as a whole person? Specializing in the minority experience, complex trauma, and systemic race issues, Romeo’s Sensation LLC focuses on navigating this complex question.

— Romel Santiago, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Clearwater, FL

Racial identity is something we always have to negotiate and navigate when dealing with others in society as well as even with members of our own community. Instead of racial identity limiting and labeling you, I help you break the stereotypes so your authentic personality can shine through.

— Christina Tseng, Associate Marriage & Family Therapist in Germantown, MD

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'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 a Black man I always bring my full self into sessions. My goal with working regarding racial identity is to ensure individuals understand themselves and better understand how the world can fit into them and how they can fit into the world.

— Matthew Mills, Clinical Social Worker in Concord, NC

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 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

Many of my clients recently have been dealing with and learning to express their feelings around the inequities in society, particularly those that identify as Black or African-American. I am here to provide a safe space of understanding and allowing any person that feels this way to be comfortable letting out those emotions in effect to promote mental health awareness in the community.

— Ronald (RJ) Byrd-Cordova, Registered Mental Health Counselor Intern in Orlando, FL

We, as BIPOCs, are multi-layered in our identities, particularly racial identity. Rarely do others take the time to understand these about us, and we also do not speak openly about racial identity, which can result in political discussions about racism. This results in our racial identity oftentimes being the "elephant in the room," that gets overlooked because of the discomfort. I believe it is the most crucial part of ourselves not to be minimized, and discussed openly.

— Loretta Sun Nam, Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Oakland, CA

As a mutli-ethnic, half Korean, first-generation born in the U.S. woman, I naturally developed a special interest in treating issues around racial identity. This includes but isn't limited to acculturative stress, systemic and institutional oppression, racism, colorism, managing dual identities if you are multi-ethnic, managing multiple cultures among family and other relationships, and much more.

— Ginger Klee, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist in Los Alamitos, CA

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 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

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

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

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 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

Your identity is the essence of who you are. Being a minority is an important part of your identity, involving a variety of unique experiences and struggles. Having your unique perspective understood by another person is extremely important and essential to working through the challenges you face. Through a culturally sensitive lens, I will cater our sessions to your individual needs and guide our process as you grow towards self-acceptance.

— Noha Khalifa, Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor in Chicago, IL

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

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