Domenique Harrison: The Race Therapist Transforming Lives Through Racial Awareness
In a world where conversations about race are both necessary and challenging, there is one individual who has dedicated her life to helping others navigate these complex issues. Meet Domenique Harrison, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) and a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC) in the state of California. With her unique approach to therapy, Domenique is transforming lives through an unwavering commitment to racial awareness.
But what exactly does it mean to address race in therapy? And how does Domenique’s approach differ from traditional counseling methods? In this article, we’ll delve into the importance of tackling race head-on in therapeutic settings and explore how Domenique’s groundbreaking work is making a profound impact on individuals from all walks of life.
Domenique Harrison, MPH, LMFT, LPCC — also known as The Racial Equity Therapist — is a race and relationships therapist, a founder, an equity strategist, and a DEIJ educator.
Join us as we learn about the inspiration behind this impactful work.
Can you provide an example of a successful intervention or initiative that you implemented to promote racial equity within an organization or community?
Domenique: For over 10 years, I’ve professionally and personally helped folks build awareness, become transformed through their racial histories and identity stories, know their body-mind connection, have healthy conversations, and own the impact of their words and actions rather than their intentions.
What was the inspiration behind becoming a therapist?
Domenique: When I started my professional career, I was working in community care & crisis management facilitating educational events and creating planning responses to disaster emergencies. I have always had a heart for community learning, health, & wellness.
However, I felt so far away from the community outcomes. I never really saw — first hand — the healing from my efforts. And I knew that working directly with individuals and small groups would give me the closeness I sought. So I entered graduate school for clinical psychology, moved through my classes with ease but felt something was missing. Specifically, exploration of oppression/race/racism, strategies and skills for effective communication and healthy relationships, and the importance of intergenerational and communal trauma and narratives. I read a lot more books, attended more learning workshops, and then started my work with clients and was completely overwhelmed. There was so much trauma and stress connected to unmet relational needs, disconnection from racial, familial & community histories, people who were wounded by and numb to their bodies, and incredibly ill-equipped to talk directly and with integrity to their partners, family, and peers about their hopes and hurts.
And I got to a point where I really didn’t want to see so many people moving through the world with little awareness, living on the surface of their lives and on autopilot hurting themselves and others intentionally and unintentionally.
My current mission as a race and relationships therapist is to see as many people become an expert at having more conscious and direct conversations that center their identities, connect their minds and bodies, and consider their history.
How important is the conversation surrounding mental health?
Domenique: The conversation surrounding mental health is incredibly important. Our friend/family/partner relationships, social environments, school/job/economic opportunities, trauma experiences in childhood/adolescence/adulthood, and more impact how we see/engage/approach the world.
Should anyone be getting mental health advice from social media?
Domenique: Receiving mental health advice from social media can be both insightful and problematic. Because we are a people who are often looking for answers grounded in a multitude of biases in our thoughts — confirmation, conformity, affinity, beauty, etc — we are accepting and throwing away things that can be limiting, untrue, too broad, and more for ourselves and others. Mental health advice from social media can be a great introduction to some of your issues, it can teach you something new, it can lead you to be curious/compare your experiences, it can also make certain harder mental health topics easier to digest/learn/comprehend, but it shouldn’t be the only place we receive our advice from and we should explore what we’ve learned and heard from social media with a wellness/therapy/mental care provider.
What would you say to someone who is reluctant to start therapy?
Domenique: Reluctancy is natural. We have been told all our lives that solving our problems should be done alone or with the person whom we find an issue/problem with — family, friend, partner. But what we also haven’t been taught are multiple flexible ways to overcome EVERY problem we face, that is where
We believe self care starts with self love. Name some self-love practices that are truly meaningful and effective.
-Creating affirmations and celebrating your unique physical/mental/spiritual/relational qualities.
-Identifying, Acknowledging, and Honoring the unique things you love/value/cherish about yourself.
-Learning Self Compassion and giving yourself grace for mistakes made, guilt felt, and more.
-Cultivating greater self-awareness: learning how your body & mind respond to person/places/things and how to give yourself the best chance for change and growth.
-Setting healthy boundaries