Digame is a monthly series featuring prominent Latinx leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, and public figures uplifting the community and making a difference.
Dr. Mariel Buquè is a Columbia University-trained Afro-Dominican psychologist, holistic wellness expert, and sound bath meditation healer. Her work focuses on the advancement of culturally responsive therapeutic practices that affirm the lived experiences of Black & Indigenous People of Color. 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 community space for people to heal together, as she believes in the liberation of both our minds and of oppressive systems as necessary qualities of our collective wellness.
Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?
My sister is one of the most impactful Latinas in my life. She is such a powerful woman, like most of us are, and I admire how intelligent and resilient she is. Another Latina I admire is ancestress Mama Tingo, who was a Dominican revolutionary who fought for the land rights of Black and poor Dominicans during a long tyranny that the country went through.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I would have the power to snap my fingers and heal my people.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
My sister, who is so intuitive and brilliant, told me on my first day of undergrad, “You are just as good as anyone else in that university.”
I never forgot her words and it helped me through some long days of imposter syndrome.
What would you title the autobiography of your life?
The Soul Healer: The story of how a Black Dominican Immigrant harnessed her own power and intuition to help heal a generation
What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
At 18-years-old I bought my first car, a 2003 Honda Civic that I worked all summer for at my job at Home Depot. I used to carry 16- foot carpet rolls and carry 70-lbs tiles. Total super woman status, because we can do anything and because my parents taught me to be a hard worker.
What do you wish more people understood about what you do?
That it is hard work that requires a trained eye and a lot of self care. I work with people that have undergone all kinds of traumatic experiences, so the work is less easy than people might think. It requires extensive training in learning how to help a person who is struggling with so much. It’s a lot of work.
What motivates you?
My family, always and always. They’re everything to me.
How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?
I think my profession found me actually. I always tell the story of how when I was 6, my mom, sister, and I had gone to the immigration center and I was so torn by the stress that our people were experiencing as they were going for their interviews and I made my mom a promise that I would help them when I was older. This is now how I help. I help people heal from the experiences of stress and trauma, like immigration and race-based trauma.
What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?
Professional: Getting a doctoral degree from a PWI (predominantly white institution) was so hard. I still have my degree and graduation cap hanging in my home office to remind myself that “I did that!”
Personal: Helping to raise my nephew. Like most families in our communities, it takes a village. Being a part of that village has been one of my greatest achievements.
What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?
I would like to create a larger movement around removing mental health stigma in BIPOC communities. I am hoping that the work I am doing in the social media space can help, but I wish to do more.
Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love – Natalie Gutierrez LMFT, super dope Latinx therapist
Name your favorites:
Snack – Dominican cake
Song – “Voy Pa Ya” by Anthony Santos
Artist – Beyoncé