Intergenerational Trauma in the BIPOC Community – Dr. Mariel Buquè – HPP 83

Dr. Mariel Buquè

The trauma of racism is a serious challenge for us to address as a society. The challenges faced by the BIPOC community are not only personal but also intergenerational. Traumatized individuals and communities of color face specific challenges in the healing path. Psychotherapists who work with clients facing these challenges need to know how to become sensitive to these specific challenges, in order to be effective allies in healing.

In today’s episode, Dr. Mariel Buquè, a Columbia University-trained psychologist, disruptor, and sound bath meditation healer joins us to explore these important and sensitive topics. Dr. Buquè has a unique perspective about what is necessary for individuals, communities, and our society to heal.

Show Notes:

Intergenerational Trauma Defined – 03:38
“What we’re seeing is a trauma response that’s layered. And I’m thinking more and more about this and more and more about how do we then produce healing that can be profound and generational and can actually tap into the multiple ways that this person has come into this trauma landscape”

Trauma Through Spiritual Healing – 09:49
“Time and again, you’ll see that clinicians and researchers speak to the fact that spirituality needs to be a part of what is integrated into the therapeutic practice. And so we know that this is something that is incredibly essential”

Healing As A Community – 14:23
“Feeling like I want to reach out into this person’s world into the multiple systems that they’re a part of, right? People bring in their families, their communities into the therapeutic space”

For Parents Raising BIPOC Children – 25:23
“Many things have been taken away from us by way of being relegated to an oppressed population; however, our joy is something that has been sustained. And that I hope that can be a message that by way of modeling, and by way of actually telling, we can help our children to also embody that joy”

For Parents Raising White Children – 26:36
“And that they have an opportunity to make drastic change even as one individual. I think that being able to transform the idea of power onto a white child by way of saying, you have this immense power to actually create a large ripple effect upon the world that can actually disrupt the status quo”

Methods of Intergenerational Trauma Work – 35:05
“And we’re attempting to figure our way through it in the most ethical and sound and clinically efficacious way. And so trying to tie in all those pieces is important and challenging at the same time, when you have an approach that is novel”

Full Episode Transcript


Dr. Mariel Buque, Keith Kurlander, Dr. Will Van Derveer


Dr. Mariel Buque  00:00

There are ways in which the white body has experienced trauma through the ages as well. Those traumas are in part what imposes trauma upon other racialized beings. And so 100% there needs to be healing that needs to happen within white communities as well.


Keith Kurlander  00:26

Thank you for joining us for The Higher Practice Podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander with Dr. Will Van Derveer. And this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Welcome back to the show. Today, we’re going to be talking about intergenerational trauma. And particularly in the black and indigenous people of color community and the world right now, with everything that’s going on, particularly in the US, it’s extremely important that we are having ongoing conversations about how to combat racism and live with anti racist behaviors and create structural change. And the mental health of white bodies, or BIPOC bodies depend on us being able to not only enter these conversations, but take hard looks at ourselves and how we are going to make that change together. So today, we’re looking at the intergenerational trauma that is passed down often between generations in the BIPOC community. And clearly there is a lot of trauma generationally in this community. And then becomes the question of when addressing the intergenerational trauma, how do you actually get to a point where you can be working that trauma out of the body. And it’s both a complicated question, because there aren’t necessarily a lot of modalities designed specifically to intergenerational trauma. There’s a lot of modalities out there to address trauma. But when we get into intergenerational work, we’re clearly working with contexts that are historical, and so we have to be asking questions about how do we access that material? And that’s what this episode is all about. And I’m excited to welcome Dr. Mariel Buque to the show. She’s a Columbia University trained psychologist, disruptor and sound bath meditation healer. Her work focuses on the advancement of culturally responsive therapeutic practices that affirm the lived experiences of black and indigenous people of color BIPOCs. Her clinical work centers on healing wounds of intergenerational trauma, holistic mental wellness, and centering indigenous healing practices. She started the soul healing collective in order to create a communal space for people to experience healing in community. She believes in the liberation of both our minds and of oppressive systems as necessary qualities of our collective wellness. Let’s welcome Dr. Mariel Buque to the show. Hi, Dr. Mariel Buque, welcome to the show.


Dr. Mariel Buque  03:36

Thank you so much for having me.


Keith Kurlander  03:38

It’s great to have you here. Very excited to explore this topic with you. And I thought a good starting point would just be to hear a little bit about you, for people who aren’t familiar with your work just a little bit about maybe a short snippet of your story of why have you focused on this work on intergenerational trauma, black indigenous people of color community, like how come you became so passionate about this?


Dr. Mariel Buque  04:03

Yeah, offering space for this to even be a topic. I hold it very near and dear to my heart. And I think it definitely was a pretty roundabout journey. I definitely come from the trauma world in the therapeutic realm. The work that I stumbled upon by way of my training was work that was very trauma centered, by way of the population that we served. So the individuals that we served at the hospital where I received most of my training was a population that had, for the most part, some sort of complex trauma. So in our clinical team meetings, there was always some sort of an identification of a history of trauma that had multiple layers, and those multiple layers extended beyond that person into generations before them. And we started seeing so many commonalities too that were held within the community itself. And I don’t know if anyone was explicitly connecting the dots, right? Explicitly saying, Hey, this is collective trauma, this is historical trauma. This is what’s happening as a result of it. What we’re seeing is a trauma response that’s layered. And I’m thinking more and more about this and more and more about how we then produce healing that can be profound and generational and can actually tap into the multiple ways that this person has come into this trauma landscape. I started getting more and more curious about the full picture and understanding it. And the individuals that we serve are 95%, black and indigenous people of color BIPOC. And so we needed to see what the common thread was. I felt like I needed to see what that thread was, especially because there were many stories that I heard from clinicians where we were helping, but we also felt like our hands were tied. And I felt like more needed to be done for a community that I hold dear to my heart, not only because I’m a part of this community, but also because it’s a community that I deeply seek to help and to serve. And so my wish has always been to serve in the best way that I know how, which has definitely landed me in this area of intergenerational trauma and understanding that the trauma that is carried within the community is one that has multiple veins, and that the approach needs to be multi dimensional as well.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  06:27

Thank you for that. And I wonder, as you went down the rabbit hole of learning about intergenerational trauma and layered trauma and then bringing that into the community of folks that you work with, how would you say that being informed around intergenerational trauma shifts your approach with folks?


Dr. Mariel Buque  06:47

Well, definitely makes this so that my approach has a very didactic orientation, for sure. I believe in the knowledge being placed in the hands, hearts and minds of the people, and that this information that has been kept from us for so long and kept from public knowledge, because we also keep a lot of this information and the power, and don’t necessarily extend that knowledge forward into the communities that could really benefit from that knowledge. I really wanted to make it a mission of mine to open up access to that information by way of how I speak publicly to the work, but also the way that I engage in even one on one therapeutic practices, being able to actually increase cultural consciousness, increase consciousness around the generational lineage of a person’s pain, and being able to place that upon a person’s knowledge base so that they can then have yet another piece of information to place in their toolbox, in their emotional toolbox.


Keith Kurlander  07:54

Yeah, also, I checked out your Instagram feed quite a bit. And you seem like a very spiritual person. Is that true?


Dr. Mariel Buque  08:01

Oh, yeah. Absolutely.


Keith Kurlander  08:02

Yeah, I go to your Instagram feed. I’m like, I think I want some tea right now. It’s just really a calming style that you’re working with there. And I’m curious, were you always a spiritual person? Or is that more like in adulthood for you? Or…


Dr. Mariel Buque  08:20

It’s so interesting that you asked me this question at this juncture of my life because I actually was reflecting upon this in my journaling very recently. And even in my thoughts, journaling, just kind of thinking through my life, like having a process there, I guess, one of the things we do when we’re at the turn of the year, right. And it was just so remarkable how I was able to go way back into early childhood, and understand that I have this spirituality within me that hadn’t necessarily been tapped into, or blossomed, or understood by me by others. And now as I go into those areas of my life, as an adult, I’m realizing that it’s just an extension of what has always been there. And a part of what has actually taken me there is I had just recently purchased some LPs from when I was younger, and they’re the kinds of music genres that you wouldn’t really anticipate, like a young child really getting into. They’re very spiritually focused and centered. And I was like, Wow, this is amazing. Like, I can’t think of a 10 year old that I know, in my life right now that really would take to this music and the way that I did and hold on to the spiritual aspects of it, even spiritual lyrics that I took a while to, and it just made me really ponder about just when did this journey really start for me, right? I don’t have an exact date. But I know that it was very early on for sure.


Keith Kurlander  09:49

Yeah, I can really relate to that too in terms of the kind of older I get, the more I’m like, wait a second, this orientations always been there and it’s just like a kind of a remembering, as I keep getting older of like, wow, I remember what I was doing. I was, I remember once I used to sit in my parents bedroom and a mirror and just stare at myself, and just like, take it in for a long time. And I would do that regularly. Like that was obviously a spiritual practice, like as a little kid. And I’m curious for you, too. Can you say about bringing the spiritual dimension to the work of helping heal trauma in the BIPOC community, and also this intergenerational piece? And how do you see that kind of blending and the marriage there of the spiritual dimension of this work?


Dr. Mariel Buque  10:40

Yeah. I think what works to our benefit is the fact that there have been people that have been working in this realm of this work, and in the spiritual realm, and find to ascribe some sense of spirituality to the work itself that has done some of the work in the academic scientific realm and have been. It’s more kind of like these outliers, I guess, in our field. So we already have numerous studies that really kind of speak to the ways in which spirituality and Afro centered practices in therapy act as a protective factor, especially against some of the markers of trauma, racialized trauma, in particular, but just trauma overall. We don’t need science to corroborate that, right? We have so many centuries of data where so many of our people, whether they were people that were just within the community, or they were actual spiritual practitioners within the communities. They have embodied spiritual practices by way of circles, and sound bathing and spiritism, and so many other practices that were placed within the community in order to help the community survive and thrive. So that has already been integrated and embedded within the community for so long, it’s just that we’re going back to these ancient practices and learning them better and within this generation, and extracting the ancestral wisdom that lies within, however, we know from, let’s say, Afrocentric psychology, not any spiritually based psychology, but just psychology that really focuses on the work with black individuals from the diaspora. Time and again, you’ll see that individuals speak to clinicians and researchers speak to the fact that spirituality needs to be a part of what is integrated into the therapeutic practice. And so we know that this is something that is incredibly essential. And spirituality speaking of it broadly, it can embody even religion. I know that there are some religions more than others that within BIPOC communities have been embraced, right. And then there’s these other practices that we now relegate to the category of indigenous practices that are those more ancient practices that came before some of the more westernized religions that have also been largely adopted within the communities for many, many moons. If we’re talking about, let’s say, the Latino community, you have like Curanderismo. And you have Santeros within the community, you have the Yoruba based practices that have been infused within communities, you have so many spiritual practices that now if even if you take to social media, social media alone, you’ll see this explosion of people actually really taking to their roots, to the ways that we’ve actually engaged in spirituality for so long that has been abandoned by way of the ways that we have navigated overseas into the Western Hemisphere. And there is a taking back to the roots that we left behind, that we were forced to leave behind as well. And an embracing of that. And within that, there’s also a lot of protection that is embodied, psychologically, spiritually, there’s so much that’s there. It’s just such a rich area of focus, and one that can’t be left behind when working with BIPOC individuals for sure.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  14:23

Thank you for that. And that brings up a question for me about Keith and I. Keith’s a therapist, I’m a psychiatrist, you’re a psychologist, Is that correct? In working with people individually, oftentimes, I guess my background in college was anthropology. So cultural anthropology. And so as a Caucasian male in this culture, I was just fascinated with the way that indigenous cultures used rituals to heal individuals in a collective circle of healing. And it’s always felt a little bit strange, although I’ve made a career out of it, of working with mostly individuals and the sort of the healer, the client but I haven’t, in my own healing work I’ve done a lot of work within circles where I’ve experienced healing and experienced the healing of the group. But I’m wondering how you relate to this question, this interesting phenomenon of which I think is kind of a child of Western psychology, or maybe European psychology of working with individual healers working with an individual, as opposed to having a more community experience of healing?


Dr. Mariel Buque  15:31

Wow, I really love that question. And it brings me into the experiences that I’ve had of being in the therapeutic space feeling limited, feeling like I want to reach out into this person’s world into the multiple systems that they’re a part of right? People bring in their families, their communities into the therapeutic space. I had one client that I worked with for many years. And I remember I was still in supervision, at that time in my training. And I remember always telling my supervisor, like I’m treating the family by way of this person, because this person, literally, the way that they embody themselves within their family unit is that they’re almost obsolete, which is a very cultural thing for especially Latina women to have like this role, where you uphold the family unit, and you almost kind of become subsumed within the family, it’s them first, you second kind of self-sacrificial way of orienting oneself around the family unit. And as a result, that dynamic was being brought into the therapeutic space, where if I were to ask, How are you? I would never really get a direct answer about the individual themselves, but more so about the entire family unit. They would literally go through every single family member, and it was three generations living in one home. And so I’m literally like, therapizing this family by way of this one person, and it is incredibly limiting, right, like as a therapist to be in this space, where you’re like, I wish that I had the entire family here, right? I have them in spirit, right? This person’s bringing them in. However, this is a reason why, when we therapize, it’s so important to therapize communities that therapize the unit, because if not, like we’re gonna be working really slow, right? We’re gonna be doing this really slow work just like working with this one individual, which I do believe that in helping the individual and facilitating ways in which this individual can actually break intergenerational chains of trauma, that can have ripple effects upon the family unit and upon the community. There are ways in which one person can have that impact. However, it’s a very slow process when you don’t have everyone in the space with you, for sure. So it’s very limiting, quite frustrating to be honest. And I do wish that the therapeutic landscape did have a different feel beyond family systems therapy, beyond couples systems therapy, that we had more of a facilitation of a therapeutic practice that looks more group oriented and more community based for sure.


Keith Kurlander  18:12

Do you have a vision on communal levels, what this work around racism needs to look like in terms of the healing and the trauma that has been produced, like what terms of communities, and we could talk about actions people need to take in a minute, but just like, what would communities be doing together? And maybe the answer is different for white community vertices versus BIPOC communities. But like, what would these communal healings look like?


Dr. Mariel Buque  18:43

Yeah, in the BIPOC community, a lot of the philosophy of lift as we climb definitely lies, right, I heal, I bring you up to heal with me, right? My goal, my community into this healing space with me, which is why I always whenever I work with people and more of the non-therapeutic kind of educational realm, I always ask, can you extend this knowledge forward, whatever it is that you’ve learned, find a way to extend the link, extend a word or phrase something that can actually help another person find enlightenment, find healing, and that is a way that we push forward our healing into our communities, right? And that more of that needs to happen more of the honoring of the people that in this very present generation still hold very many of the ancient practices as their very own. They themselves are healers right? And that we might be willing to honor that kind of healing, and even collaborate as therapists with individuals that hold that orientation and that we might be able to find ways to collectively bring our communities into healing spaces that embody all of the multitude of ways that a person can heal. But there are also things that we can do in a day to day that can also disrupt the traumas that we have experienced by way of having concrete conversations and loving conversations and conversations that can hold compassion around what we have experienced and what we continue to experience. And some of these happen in kind of pseudo reactionary ways. When another incident of police brutality is popularized, we start having these conversations and looking out for each other and taking care of each other. And that’s just in our nature, right? However, it probably needs to be something that we do on a daily basis, because our energies are assailed on a daily basis by way of the lived experiences that we have. And so if we could have healing, that could be like propagated, like, a million times over, I think that in whatever way that a person feels like healing can take place, if it’s a conversation, if it’s a simple gesture, if it’s a hug, anything an affirmation, right? Knowledge, there’s so many ways that we can heal as a community that are valid and necessary. And so that’s about just kind of keeping the idea of healing at the fore. I don’t know if you’ve read My Grandmother’s Hands. In that book, I find some parts of the book so hard to digest because I know it’s the cold, harsh truth, and they kind of had to really sit with the content, and it’s so necessary. The author Resmaa Menakem, I hope I say his name correctly, explains that there are ways in which the white body has experienced trauma through the ages as well. Those traumas are in part what imposes trauma upon other racialized beings. And so 100% there needs to be healing that needs to happen within white communities as well. And the first thing that needs to happen on a larger scale is a system of acknowledgement of the ways in which whiteness has been created as a dominant race. And as one that has perpetuated a lot of violence for people, there’s just so much shame and so much guilt associated with the history of whiteness in the United States and beyond that I think we’re really kind of stuck in that place, and not being able to have conversations that are candid, that hold that truth, are going to keep white individuals stuck there and not transitioning from a place of being stuck in and having the blinders on to a place where they can embody anti racism positions, or even a co conspirators position in order to be someone that can dismantle their own power and redistribute it so that we can live in true equality and harmony. So there needs to be spaces that can hold conversations around those truths, and can actually hold the lived experiences and the emotions of white individuals around these truths.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  18:43

Yes, thanks for bringing forward Resmaa’s work. We had the privilege to interview him a couple of months ago. And it was by far one of the most powerful conversations Keith and I have ever had. We walked away reeling. And this concept that you’re bringing forward, I think is so important to emphasize that there tends to be this collapse around the guilt and the shame of carrying this privilege. And, in reading My Grandmother’s Hands that came up really strong for me as well, this is a lot and one of the things that Resmaa said was really the collapse is part of the problem, because it shuts down the dialogue and it shuts down the actual feeling. And so I just feel very inspired to be willing to feel what’s there. And the model that he described of white body on white body violence in Europe, getting reoriented toward black bodies in this country, it just makes a lot of sense to me. And somehow it’s easier. I don’t know why it got through in a particular way. Maybe it’s the extremely difficult year that we’ve all been in this year that somehow broke through my barriers to help me begin to feel what’s happening there. And I agree with you in this piece about white communities, finding a way to sit together and hold space and actually feel what’s there feels really important to me.


Dr. Mariel Buque  23:56

100% Yeah. Taking the opportunity to feel is a courageous stance, because there’s a lot of privilege in not feeling and white identifying and deciding to feel and continuing to maintain the status quo. However, there is an opportunity that white individuals have to actually try to disengage from the state of paralysis and engage the emotions that are there in order to understand them fully, and then take action beyond that. When individuals are not in the very human way, right not going to be able to take action from a point of paralysis. It just cannot happen. So I really am hoping that this very turbulent and challenging year has brought about more individuals like you, Will that have decided to embody that courage and engage in the very difficult emotions that come up when we have to be confronted with our truths. And then we could take action beyond that in order to embody a different truth within our generation and forward.


Keith Kurlander  25:23

Once you tell parents who are raising black children, what would you want black children to know about the world they’re living in right now? Like, what message would you want them to hear?


Dr. Mariel Buque  25:37

I would want them to know to live fully, that the fullness of their joy matters and that the freedom of expression of that joy. Many things have been taken away from us by way of being relegated to an oppressed population or population that continues to experience multiple forms of oppression. However, our joy is something that has been sustained. And that I hope that can be a message that by way of modeling, and by way of actually telling, we can help our children to also embody that joy. We know that joy and laughter, kind of just tapping into the neuroscience of it all, like, a lot of these mechanisms do have an impact upon the deep despair that we feel as a collective and as just individuals, right? And so we can continue to relay the message of joy to the future generation. And I think that can hold immense power.


Keith Kurlander  26:36

Yeah, that’s really beautiful. Thanks for sharing that. And, you know, I asked this question to myself, raising a white child right now. And I’m asking myself the question constantly about what do I need to be doing when we live in a racist world? And how to speak to her about that? And yeah, so I guess, conversely, I’m wondering, like, what would you want white children to know? What would you tell them about the world they live in and about racism, specifically?


Dr. Mariel Buque  27:08

Well, I will tell them why racism exists. And they have been born into a system by which they hold privilege and there will be many, many moments in which they will perpetuate that racism by way of just existing in a white body. And that they have an opportunity to make drastic change even as one individual. I think that being able to transform the idea of power onto a white child by way of saying, you have this immense power, with the skin that you live in, to actually create a large ripple effect upon the world that can actually disrupt the status quo, and create equality because there is power that is held in the white body by way of that. And so I think that’s such a powerful message. A white parent can rely upon their white child that can really create community, a future community that can dialogue differently with one another and create a different world than what we experienced in the present.


Keith Kurlander  28:08

Thanks for answering those questions. I think it’s so important to, I think, hear people’s voices too about how we speak to our children. And what do we tell them and how do we help them feel their self worth but not take their positions for granted or their lack of positions for granted or not for granted and go into other issues and so thank you for answering those questions. I’m wondering if you could speak a little bit more about the intergenerational trauma piece too? I’m really curious about what you’ve unpacked there. So obviously, there’s current traumas going on all the time in the BIPOC community, and that’s happening, and that people are experiencing traumas. And I’m curious about how you’re seeing the intergenerational layer. You talked about trauma layers and how you see that show up in this community and people you’re working with and how you’re helping people tease that apart.


Dr. Mariel Buque  29:09

I think it’s always important to start off by just very briefly, delineating like the markers of intergenerational trauma, because I think there’s a lot of people that probably are like, what? Is that a new thing, kind of what is that? One can even apply like this concept of nature and nurture, it’s intergenerational trauma, right? We have, on one side the biological markers of like gene expressions that have been transmuted by way of like an overproduction or an under production of a stress hormone, which is in direct correlation with experiences of stress, heightened stress or the experiences of one’s life being in danger in some aspect or another. And then you have the nurture piece, which is you know, more the social factors that a person tends to experience more so within their lifespan. And, I must say, you know, the biological markers we do know that impart gene expressions get handed down in utero by way of the mother to the child’s and so there is already the development of a predisposition for there to be a heightened vulnerability, a biological vulnerability to stress. And then we have this nurture piece where there’s so much that’s happening in that realm, right? A child comes into the world and you have a black child that has to be given the talk. And that talk is already a very traumatizing experience that is incredibly necessary for the sake of the survival of black individuals. You have to tell your child, hey, this world looks like this, right? It’s a world that has perceived you as a threat, even you being a child believes that you are up to no good, that you can be dangerous. And as a result, you will have these likelihood of more experiences that will be marked by these stereotypes. And for a child, especially a child that hasn’t even entered, let’s say, adolescence, and needs to be given the talk without even having developed abstract thinking, or the capacity to really make sense of this as one would as an adult, is a very traumatizing experience. And it’s one that a young mind has to make sense of. The same goes for braces that person might have into their more adult years where now they are making sense of these experiences. They know what’s happening. However, the experience has continued to happen on a chronic basis. And they continue to have multiple experiences of discrimination of microaggressions, of macroaggressions. And the experiences of living in food deserts, the experiences of being relegated to specific stereotypes. And every time one steps into a room or opens one’s mouth, there is this perception that white individuals will have of you no matter how you present. And so all of this is a part of chronic trauma that is racialized. And then we have something else that is along the realm of the more nurturer piece, which is more of the modeling that exists or the ways that we have decided to embody trauma responses, and we all see each other modeling that for survival’s sake and then we all kind of emulate it. And then there’s this like collective trauma response that’s kind of permeating throughout communities. So there’s just so much that’s happening both on the gene expression side and on the socialized side. And it’s a very unique experience to individuals that are a part of a collective society that is persistently oppressed, right? And when you have that, you have the recipe for there being trauma that is embodied and your generation and then transitioned on to the next, as has been the case for many, many generations before us and will likely be the case just by way of how we’re seeing this generation pan out for generations to come. And that is because BIPOC individuals have been at the center of having experienced experiences of police brutality, genocide, The New Jim Crow, like mass incarceration. The old Jim Crow, right? I mean, there’s just so many, even in the health world, right now, as we are looking at the Coronavirus vaccine, right? There’s a lot of conversations about mistrust of the health world, right? Because there have been so many ways in which black bodies and BIPOC bodies have been exploited and utilized as guinea pigs for vaccines and for many other reasons within the health realm. And so you can only imagine. I mean, there’s a lot of jokingly people say, like, I’m not taking that vaccine, right. And it’s something that could potentially save our lives. We don’t know, right? But for many people, especially black individuals are kind of holding back because there’s general belief that there’s a likelihood that we’re being pushed to the forefront of taking the vaccine. We may have like another syphilis study in our hands, right? And so there’s just so much that’s experienced in a generation that transmutes and transitions into the next and it happens over and over again. And the way that oppression works is that it’s very crafty. And so there are so many ways in which oppression shows up in our lives. They create these chronic experiences of trauma and these chronic experiences of stress that are kind of unending at this point, right? So that’s why and how it becomes pertinent in BIPOC communities because they have all of these markers, and I’m only naming just a few that come to mind. But I mean, we could be here kind of all night, just kind of talking about this piece for sure.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  34:36

Right. We could talk about these studies and chronic medical disease that are diseases of stress and trauma, like diabetes and hypertension and things that are seen in very high levels in the African American community and even just how people, the ratios of how people are dying from the Coronavirus cuts across these lines that we’re talking about. So many layers.


Keith Kurlander  35:05

The intergenerational trauma work in the field of psychology, in terms of the application of intergenerational trauma work is fairly new. There’s not been a lot of modalities developed around how do you work with intergenerational trauma in the field of psychology, there’s been just a lot of more generalized trauma modalities been developed. And I’m curious, and you don’t have to answer this. Have you done personal work around intergenerational trauma? You don’t have to go deep into that.


Dr. Mariel Buque  35:34

Yeah, I do work around intergenerational trauma, for sure. Because I see it as really pertinent and important. And right now, I think it is prudent and ethical to stick to what we know, and also to bring in the practices that have been held within the community, as well, right? Because we understand those tools as well. But it is tricky when we understand that there is this whole realm of trauma work that is still new, as others have been in the past. And we’re attempting to figure our way through it in the most ethical and sound and clinically efficacious way. And so trying to tie in all those pieces is important and challenging at the same time, when you have an approach that is novel. And many of us are attempting to piece all the multiple pieces of what we know together to create a larger construct of intergenerational trauma work.


Keith Kurlander  36:38

Yeah. And so my only personal experience of intergenerational trauma work as a Jewish male, and I happen to just had a history of very complex trauma. And it turned out that one of the biggest healings for me was diving into Holocaust material. And finding my way and creating my way with how you work with the idea that potentially I have intergenerational trauma from the Holocaust, and just finding my way around that. And so I’m curious what you’re discovering around doing intergenerational trauma work in the BIPOC community, or maybe you have a personal story you want to share about yourself around how that looks like, for me, it was like very much like, Okay, I know the context that I think I’m working with, and I’m going to relate to that context and trauma sessions consistently. And it took me 20 to 40 sessions of that work, where I’ve had catharsis after catharsis, and I felt like it was complete. So I’m just curious about you in this intergenerational peace, like, are you actually like holding the context? Here’s what’s happened historically. And can we relate to that of what happened and working with the actual context? Or is there a different way? Is it more just what’s in the present moment than that’s just what’s in the feelings in the body? Does that make sense?


Dr. Mariel Buque  38:02

Absolutely. Yeah, thank you for the question. It’s actually both right? It’s both in the historical context, and bringing that to the fore of the conversation and having concrete conversations about what that history is, what it’s looked like, and how it can actually be contextualized within the experiences of trauma responses being held by the individual, and even by myself. I do a lot of work with myself and for myself around ancestral work that has been highly therapeutic for me. And it’s taken multiple forms, and it’s tapped into the area of art therapy, and actually painting ancestors while listening to their words and the experiences and the wisdom that they held. It’s taken me to journaling directly to ancestors of mine that I have felt a deep connection to, even though they may not be directly connected to my lineage. One such ancestor that I haven’t necessarily drawn a map, but there’s a lot of genograms that also are beginning to be a part of the whole intergenerational trauma work. But I haven’t necessarily done that piece of the work. But I do feel a very strong connection to a Dominican revolutionary who was an afro woman herself called Mamá Tingó, who fought for the rights of the poor black farm workers of the Dominican Republic. I don’t have any direct connection that I can think of to farm life to Mamá Tingó. And yet since I was a little girl, there was a song called Mamá Tingó by a very popular Afro Dominican artist from the country. And every time I would hear this song, which was from I think, the 70s or 80s, I would feel this profound overtaking. And now in my late 30s, I’m journaling to this ancestor and connecting to this person because I feel like a part of The ways in which I’ve embodied a revolutionary spirit, I feel like are connected to the ways in which this woman who was assassinated for her work embody this revolutionary spirit. And there’s just such depth in what I feel. And so I tap into that  because that’s a part of my own healing. And I try to bring whatever connections might exist for the individuals that want to get into this work so that they might also be able to have that re-expression of their ancestral connection in the work itself. And sometimes clients will just come to me and say, Hey, listen, I want to do this work. Where do we start? Right? Or I heard that you spoke in this podcast about this. And it really resonated with me, and I like to speak to you about how it resonated with me. And we’ll start there. So many times the clients themselves are the ones initiating.  Yeah, what I also heard in there, which I think is really beautiful, is sort of an intuitive part of the work within intergenerational trauma of following the signals, it’s like, you heard the music and like, it spoke to you, and just kind of followed your own intuition. And I think that’s really important to just highlight, and especially in intergenerational work. It’s like trusting intuition and helping our clients really listen to themselves about signals probably already in their life somewhere pointing the road in terms of the healing path. So I just picked up on what you said about the music, I think it’s really important. Thanks for sharing that. Well, as we wrap up here, how can people follow you? What do you want them to know about you? Well, I would love for them to know that I’m continuing my mission to build communal spaces for healing. I recently launched a healing collective called The Soul Healing Collective, which is a community of people that are just learning all about these things through didactics that I create and sound bath meditation practices and a host of other things, including in vivo dialogue. And it’s a space for there to be expanded conversation and knowledge about the multiple ways in which we can embody healing, which I can’t tell you how much it fills my heart to have established this community and be a part of it. I always feel so full when speaking to it. So that’s one place where you will definitely find me and I’m hoping that people can feel inclined to join us and be a part of this intentional community of bodying a healing language for their own journey. And really, my work is mostly including this, it’s mostly on my website on, or I’m always on Instagram in some way or another, as you mentioned, Keith, so you’ll find me there for sure doing some sound baths or dialoguing about multiple areas of this work as well. So that’s the way to find me for sure.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  42:56

Thanks, Mariel.


Keith Kurlander  42:57

Yeah, so the last question is, we asked every guest such as if you had a billboard with a paragraph that every human being would see at one point in their life, what would you say to them?


Dr. Mariel Buque  43:08

Yeah. So I would say black humanity matters. Let’s make this a world where you don’t have to so profoundly proclaim that it does.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  43:20

Thank you for embodying the revolutionary spirit of Mamá Tingó. It’s a strong force, as I feel your energy, thank you for bringing that.


Dr. Mariel Buque  43:28

It’s an honor. Thank you very much for having me.


Keith Kurlander  43:36

This episode hits home for me in a lot of different ways as it may have for you. Living in a white male body in a position of privilege, I’m really having to ask myself constantly very hard questions about how am I going to help make a difference around a pretty massive issue, structural societal issue in the United States and in many other societies in the world. And how am I gonna make a difference? And I think my answer right now is that one of the biggest ways I can make a difference is simply by creating platforms for the voices to get heard that need to get heard in space, that have new ways of thinking about the problem, and how we’re going to solve them. And I really want to encourage you to share this episode because that’s the only way we’re going to make this difference together structurally is sharing this episode with one person who you feel like needs to hear it. And hopefully, they all share it. And it’s just so amazing that we have the power to share information right now in such a fast way right at our fingertips, and the right information in the right person’s hands can make such a huge difference. We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of the Higher Practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.

Dr. Mariel Buquè

Dr. Mariel Buque is a Columbia University-trained licensed psychologist, holistic mental health expert, and sound bath meditation healer.

Her work centers on helping people heal their whole selves through holistic mental wellness practices and on healing wounds of intergenerational trauma.

She also focuses on delivering healing and anti-racism lessons and workshops, as she believes in the liberation of our minds and of oppressive systems as necessary qualities of our overall wellness.

To learn more about Dr. Mariel Buquè: