You know immediately—the places and spaces which welcome you as you are, almost as if an embrace. You feel that when visiting Dr. Mariel Buqué's home, with its old-school charm, minimalist styling, and her deeply personal touches that are interspersed throughout. From her father's lovingly hand-sewn sitting cushion to her home's original farm chairs that have been handed down through generations to artwork from contemporary Black artists, these pieces hold such profound significance and care.
Dr. Buqué is a Columbia University-trained licensed psychologist, holistic mental health expert, and a sound bath meditation healer who hosted our virtual sound bath session earlier this year. We were delighted then to visit with her and sit down to discuss her work and her space. Read on for why her practice focuses on a multidimensional approach to intergenerational trauma, how her sentimental minimalist style shows up in her home decor, and how she creates a sense of calm in her home.
What drew you into Holistic Psychology? Tell us about your start in therapeutic medicine.
I truly believe that this work found me. I heard someone say that your calling calls to you, and I believe this is what happened. Because this work came through happenstance in my life. I was undergoing my own understanding of programming my mind, body, and spirit while working in the advertising industry. Through that journey, I found therapy, yoga, acupuncture, and so many other healing mechanisms. I then started working in my hometown of Newark, NJ, in several mental health programs, and everything came together for me then. I knew I had found my true calling. I decided five years into my advertising career then that I needed to transition full-time into mental health. Eight years of master's and doctorate level training later, here I am, truly living out my mission. But even when I started to practice, I realized that many had been experiencing layers of pain that required holistic methods of healing and diving into the generations of pain they carried with them. My work has morphed into catering to helping clients heal intergenerational trauma wounds and experience emotional liberation from layers of pain.
For those who aren't familiar with Intergenerational Trauma, would you explain what it is—and why you've specialized your career in focusing on it?
Absolutely. Intergenerational trauma is the trauma that is passed down through your lineage. And what that essentially means is that the trauma is both biological and psychological. It's the trauma that gets passed down through genetic markers of stress in the body, from parents to children, and this happens after conception when a baby inherits genes from both parents that make this baby predisposed to high stress. The psychological part is what comes after the baby is born. A baby then seeks safety and attunement with their parents. When parents are preoccupied with their own trauma, typically, they miss cues on how to attune to their babies and children and have trouble soothing them as well. Later on in life, these same children can also have experiences of their own stressful situations or their own traumatic experiences. And that is how the cycle is then maintained. It's through the traumatized person's biology and through the ways in which stress and trauma are then maintained in their lives.
What brings you joy at home?
My garden and my puppy both bring me immense joy. I love being outside, tending to my hydrangeas, and seeing my puppy roll around in the grass. I take in those moments mindfully and appreciate every second.
What do you love most about your home?
I love that my home has the original bolted ceilings that are over 100 years old. The entire space is a step back in time with a modern twist. It's a smart home with a lot of smart technology, but you would never know because of the old-school charm that it holds. I am an old soul and love a cozy home, so it fits my personality so well.
You have layered a few Lulu and Georgia pieces into your space, is there one statement maker you still find yourself fawning over?
It's hard to pick just one since I deeply love my Lulu and Georgia pieces. But I have always wanted a Nera Dining Table to host my entire family for brunches and dinners. When I saw my black farm table, I knew I had found my statement piece. It is the boldest, most beautiful, most functional item I have. I love every detail of this table. It's something you have to see in person to appreciate truly. And I'm grateful that it has a home in my little cottage of peace.
How do you approach the decor of your home? Do you feel as though your design style and your personal aesthetic overlap?
My home is absolutely a representation of my aesthetics. I wanted my home to embody who I am. I am part minimalist and part sentimentalist when it comes to my décor. Some of the pieces in my home were handmade, like my foyer's sitting cushion, which my dad sewed by hand. It's so special to me because my father's hands deposited love onto my home in such a unique way. I also have pieces that speak to my love and appreciation for Black culture and art. The pieces that I select typically have a story behind them, which brings me a lot of comfort because my home holds so much depth and love.
Any advice for those looking to update their living room—including maybe a couple of tips for people wanting to recreate your space's look?
A living room should blend comfort and style. It's a place where you showcase your home to guests, but you also want them to feel the warmth your home offers. So I would play around with cozy textures and one-of-a-kind accents that say, "This is my home. It is warm and inviting but also holds some intrigue."
Personal elements and touches make a room—tell us about your favorite pieces in your dining room?
Beyond my Lulu and Georgia dining table, my favorite pieces are: old farm chairs that were original to the home and have been handed down through the generations of owners; a beautiful custom pendant chandelier that illuminates the room with a soft glow; and an original art piece by Liberian-American visual artist, Denisio Truitt.
When it comes to inspiration, are there other artists or mentors you turn to often?
My first mentor is my wise older sister, Lady. She's my voice of wisdom and a major driver in my career. And my career mentors, Dr. Diana Puñales-Morejon and Dr. Santos Vales. They taught me everything I know about doing this work from the heart.
Are there any go-to exercises that you turn to when you're looking for a daily dose of calm?
I like to dive into a bit of Tai Chi when I feel like I'm holding a lot of tension. It offers my body a release that benefits my major organs, and I love the dual effect on body and mind.
What's next for you and your business?
I hope to dive into some writing and spread more knowledge about how we heal through trauma. And I'm excited to see what hearts and souls I reach through this work.
Photography provided byDr. Mariel Buquè